NGO Calls On UK Government To Promote Sustainable, Healthy Diet

Since the UN released a report in 2006 in which it said that livestock is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 18% of the total, the topic has become a staple of environmental and animal welfare discussions. Meatless Mondays has become a global initiative and an increasing number of people adopt a plant-based diet (vegan) to save the planet.

Besides sparing animals and the environment, a plant-based diet is also good for human health and it could save public health services around the world a great deal of money. This is the premise on which the World Preservation Foundation has issued a paper calling on the UK government to “proactively promote and recommend a plant-based diet as a solution to rising healthcare costs and rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type II diabetes”.

The paper was distributed to all Members of Parliament in the House Magazine and it’s called Plant-Based Diets: A solution to our public health crisis. The London-based NGO stated in a letter to the Prime Minister that the Government can take the international lead in the advocacy and implementation of healthier plant-based policies and incentives, setting a benchmark in healthcare, environmental protection and policy innovation. The organization set out proposed measures it believes the UK government can implement to meet this challenge.

The UK has seen a huge surge in so-called lifestyle diseases as the population consumes an unprecedented amount of sugar, saturated fat and carbohydrates. As a consequence, 60% of the population is now overweight or obese. WPO says cardiovascular disease alone kills nearly 200,000 people in the UK every year and costs over £30bn (US$47bn). The paper details how these chronic diseases can be treated with a simple switch to a plant-based, sustainable diet.

“We are potentially on the cusp of what could be a seismic revolution in health. This will never come about from another pill, another procedure, another operation, or construction of another cardiac cathedral. It will come about when we are able to show the public the lifestyle that will halt and eliminate 75% of these common, chronic killing diseases. The most essential component of this lifestyle is whole food plant-based nutrition”, said physician and researcher, Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, who directs the cardiovascular prevention and reversal program in Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute in the U.S.

The paper says there’s consensus amongst many health specialists that diseases such as type II diabetes can be reversed by removing the cause, which is excess weight caused by a typical Western diet and inactivity. Dr Joel Fuhrman, Director of Research for Nutritional Research Project for the National Health Association in New Jersey, said that “the best and safest ‘medicine’ for a diabetic is a high-nutrient density (HND) diet: focused on low-calorie, nutrient-rich plant foods and exercise. Weight loss is effective in itself, but the goal of lifestyle intervention must be to improve pancreatic function and lower insulin resistance over and above what could be accomplished with weight loss alone. “

The World Preservation Foundation said asking people to eat five portions of fruit and vegetable a day does not go far enough. The government should lead by example, it said, because many people have no idea that food choices make such a big difference to their health.

“Advanced nutrition science has provided us with the simple and cost effective solution of a wholesome plant-based diet for preventing and even reversing these diet related diseases. People can make an informed choice when they know the full facts and that needless suffering and loss of loved ones can be avoided to a large extent”, said Gerard Wedderburn-Bisshop, WPF Executive Director.

Image credit: T Colin Campbell Foundation