Marco Springman, an academic at Oxford University, said that if everyone in the world repeated the eating habits of Ireland, we would need five planets to cope with the pressure it puts on the environment.
Research shows that there is no country in the world that has the right diet to balance health needs with environmental sustainability. However, Irish cuisine compares poorly with eating habits abroad.
On a per capita basis, if every country in the world were to follow Ireland’s daily recommended dietary guidelines, we would need two planets to cope with the greenhouse gas emissions it produces.
“But people don’t eat according to guidelines,” he said. Springman talks about research published in the British Medical Journal.
“If everyone eats as recommended by the Irish, we need two lands to balance greenhouse gas emissions, because the milk recommendations are more than sustainable. The Irish diet is focused on red meat and milk, and these either cause high emissions, or both.”
We do not need two or five extra planets as we eat more than the recommended guidelines. Along with the environmental impacts, there are also the health effects of food.
Presented by an expert panel on RTE’s What Planet R U On. Springman says meat is a proven cancer and the benefits of milk can be questioned.
The Irish Farmers Association questioned his qualifications last year after playing the diary’s health benefits academically. But Dr. Springman says the research and his credentials speak for themselves.
“For the past seven years, I have been doing research and modeling work that brings together the health, nutrition, environmental and economic aspects.”
He says farmers need to adapt and be encouraged to do so.
He added that countries can do their best to provide food advice to the people.
“Anything that adopts a national policy must be integrated with agriculture. Here, it is important to lead the agricultural sector by hand, but we see huge protests if anyone calls for a meat cut. But if we do not do this, especially in high-income countries like Ireland, there is no way to limit climate change.”
Which planet are you on? It airs tonight on RTÉ One at 6.30pm.
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