UN Report Suggests Humans Should Adopt Plant-based Diets to Fight Climate Change

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a major report to inform upcoming climate negotiations as the world faces a global climate crisis.

The report, which was compiled by over 100 experts from across the globe, suggests that drastic changes to human diets are necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of global warming and includes a policy recommendation to reduce meat consumption.

The UN report suggests that cutting food waste and eating less meat is an effective method to reduce climate change that it predicts will save millions of square miles of land from being degraded by farming. Currently, a quarter of the world’s ice-free land has been damaged by human activity, with soil eroding from agricultural fields up to 100 times faster than it forms.

Dietary choices

Panmao Zhai, one of the authors of the report, commented: “There is real potential here through more sustainable land use, reducing over-consumption and waste of food, eliminating the clearing and burning of forests, preventing over-harvesting of fuelwood, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (to help) address land-related climate change issues.”

“Some dietary choices require more land and water, and cause more emissions of heat-trapping gases than others,” added Debra Roberts, another of the report’s authors.

“Balanced diets featuring plant-based foods, such as coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, and animal-sourced food produced sustainably in low greenhouse gas emission systems, present major opportunities for adaptation to and limiting climate change,” Roberts continued.

Beneficial

“We don’t want to tell people what to eat,” says ecologist Hans-Otto Pörtner who co-chairs the IPCC’s working group on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. “But it would indeed be beneficial, for both climate and human health, if people in many rich countries consumed less meat, and if politics would create appropriate incentives to that effect.”

“We’re not telling people to stop eating meat. In some places people have no other choice. But it’s obvious that in the West we’re eating far too much,” added Prof Pete Smith, an environmental scientist from Aberdeen University, UK.

Source: Vegan Food and Living

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Chinese-style Vegetarian Wonton

Ingredients

2 Tbsp cooking oil
1/2 cup preserved vegetables
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp finely grated ginger
1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup watercress, blanched in lightly salted water, drain and squeeze dry, chop finely.
1/2 cup dried mushrooms, soaked in water, drain and chop finely.
1/3 cup vermicelli, soaked in water, drain and chop finely.
1/3 cup finely chopped spring onions
1/3 cup shredded fried egg, finely chopped
30 pieces wonton wraps
3 cups chicken broth

Seasoning

1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp Chinese wine
1/2 tsp salt

Method

  1. Heat oil in a wok. Fry preserved vegetables with a dash of sesame oil, 1 tsp of ginger juice and sugar.
  2. Put all ingredients, except wonton wraps, into a big bowl. Add seasoning and mix well.
  3. Divide the mixture into 30 portions.
  4. Place a piece of wonton wrap flat on your palm and put a portion of the mixture in the centre of the wrap. Fold into halves to get a crescent shape. Bring the two ends together to overlap slightly. Moisten one end and paste the ends down firmly.
  5. Boil a pot of water. Drop wontons into the boiling water. Remove the wontons when they float to the surface.
  6. Serve wontons in chicken broth garnished with sprigs of coriander or serve cold as an appetizer with a dip of vinegar and finely shredded ginger.

Source: My Shanghai

Vegan Boba Tea Debuts in Japan

Anna Starostinetskaya wrote . . . . . . . . .

For a limited time period, beauty brand Botanist offers specialty boba teas from a stand inside its in-store café in the Harajuku district of Tokyo, Japan.

One of the two options is fully vegan and features a blue-hued pea milk tea base dotted with brown sugar tapioca balls sourced from Taiwan.

Botanist will only serve 100 cups of the specialty boba teas per day.

The beauty brand also offers a number of vegan food options at its café, including pasta dishes, waffles, and desserts.

In March, Botanist added the vegan Sakura Burger to its menu in celebration of Japan’s “Sakura” (Cherry Blossom) festival. The burger features a soy patty that is topped with vegan cheese, a pink-hued sauce colored with beets, and fresh vegetables that come sandwiched between cherry-colored buns made with sweet potatoes.

Source: Veg News

Giving Up Meat Could Help Your Health and the Planet’s

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . . . . .

If Americans traded in their hamburgers for tofu, buckwheat and asparagus, it could make a big difference in the health of the planet — without shortchanging anyone on nutrients.

That’s the conclusion of a new study in which researchers estimated the benefits — to humans and the environment — of diets centered on “nutritionally sound” meat alternatives.

Many studies have pointed to ways in which vegetarian diets are kinder to the planet: Less land used for raising and feeding livestock; less pollution; less energy use; and fewer “greenhouse gas” emissions that contribute to global warming.

But meat is an important nutrient source for a huge portion of the population. So it’s important to show that plant foods adequately replace those needs while benefiting the environment, according to Gidon Eshel, the lead researcher.

“Here, we rigorously considered the nutritional and environmental aspects,” said Eshel, a research professor of environmental and urban studies at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Specifically, his team used a computer model to estimate the effects of replacing meat in the typical American diet with any of 500 plant-based “partial” diets — either swapping out just beef, or eliminating all meat.

Each diet contained 35 plant foods, randomly selected from a larger menu of vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts and whole grains. In general, a few foods were key — including soy, buckwheat, asparagus, green peppers and squash.

On average, soy and buckwheat together supplied one-third of the diets’ total protein, for example.

The researchers used published studies to estimate what the diets would require in land use, greenhouse gas emissions, water and nitrogen fertilizer — a source of pollution.

Overall, they estimated that if all Americans traded in meat for plant alternatives, it would eliminate the need for pasturelands. And the nation’s diet-related needs for crop land, nitrogen fertilizer and greenhouse gas emissions could be cut by 35% to 50%.

Only water use would rise — by 15%, the researchers said.

In the United States, meat production accounts for only a small portion of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to Eshel’s team. So swapping burgers for soy would trim total emissions by only about 5%.

In contrast, Eshel said, feeding livestock requires a lot of cropland and fertilizer. So plant-based diets could make a big difference in those uses.

And what about the diets’ healthfulness? “The science is unequivocal,” Eshel said. “These meat-replacement diets would actually be far superior to the typical American diet.”

All of the study diets delivered healthy amounts of protein and more than 40 other nutrients — including fiber, “good” fats and a range of vitamins and minerals. The exception was vitamin B12, which is found only in animal products.

But, the study authors said, that’s easy enough to address with supplements.

There’s a bigger question, however: How realistic is it that Americans would move en masse to a meatless diet? It’s a nation that, in 2015, downed 25 billion pounds of beef alone, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“I recognize, very clearly, that it wouldn’t be an easy transition,” Eshel said.

Not only for people, but also for cultural and economic structures, he added. The “labor-intensive” work of vegetable growing, for example, is much different from growing the corn and other commodity crops that now go toward feeding livestock (and people).

Vandana Sheth is a Los Angeles-based dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

She said people can find it hard to go to a more plant-based regimen because of cost, meal-preparation time or doubts about their ability to craft tasty dishes.

“It’s absolutely possible to enjoy a healthy plant-based diet and adequately meet all your nutrition needs,” Sheth said. “However, it does require some planning and knowledge about the key components required to make it well balanced.”

A good general meal guide, she noted, is to fill half your plate with vegetables, a quarter with protein such as beans, lentils or tofu, and a quarter with whole grains.

And while a few foods were prominent in this study, Sheth suggested trying a range of vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds — and “getting creative” with herbs and spices to amp up the flavor.

You don’t have to dive into vegetarianism, either. Sheth suggested taking small steps — declaring Meatless Monday, for example.

The study was published online in Scientific Reports.

Source: HealthDay

Reduction of Carbohydrate Intake Improves Type 2 Diabetics’ Ability to Regulate Blood Sugar

The Danish National Institute of Public Health estimates that the number of Danes diagnosed with type 2 diabetes will have doubled to no less than 430,000 in 2030. Nutritional therapy is important to treat the disease optimally, but the recommendations are unclear. According to the Danish Health Authority, up to 85% of newly diagnosed patients with type 2 diabetes are overweight, and they are typically advised to follow a diet focused on weight loss: containing less calories than they burn, low fat content and a high content of carbohydrates with a low ‘glycaemic index’ (which indicates how quickly a food affects blood sugar levels).

Reduced carbohydrate content – increase in protein and fat

A central aspect in the treatment of type 2 diabetes is the patient’s ability to regulate their blood sugar levels, and new research now indicates that a diet with a reduced carbohydrate content and an increased share of protein and fat improves the patient’s ability to regulate his or her blood sugar levels compared with the conventional dietary recommendations. In addition, it reduces liver fat content and also has a beneficial effect on fat metabolism in type 2 diabetics.

“The purpose of our study was to investigate the effects of the diet without ‘interference’ from a weight loss. For that reason, the patients were asked to maintain their weight. Our study confirms the assumption that a diet with a reduced carbohydrate content can improve patients’ ability to regulate their blood sugar levels – without the patients concurrently losing weight,” explains Senior Consultant, DMSc Thure Krarup, MD, from the Department of Endocrinology at Bispebjerg Hospital. He continues: “Our findings are important, because we’ve removed weight loss from the equation. Previous studies have provided contradictory conclusions, and weight loss has complicated interpretations in a number of these studies.”

New dietary recommendations for type 2 diabetics in future

Based on the growing body of evidence, we might rethink the dietary recommendations for patients with type 2 diabetes, stresses Thure Krarup:

“The study shows that by reducing the share of carbohydrates in the diet and increasing the share of protein and fat, you can both treat high blood sugar and reduce liver fat content. Further intensive research is needed in order to optimise our dietary recommendations for patients with type 2 diabetes,” says Thure Krarup, stressing that the findings should be confirmed in large-scale, long-term controlled trials.

The findings of the study have been published in the article “A carbohydrate-reduced high-protein diet improves HbA1c and liver fat content in weight stable subjects with type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial” in the renowned scientific journal ‘Diabetologia’.

Summary: What did the study show?

  • A diet with a reduced carbohydrate content, high protein content and moderately increased fat content improves glycaemic control (the ability to regulate blood sugar) by reducing blood sugar after meals and ‘long-term blood sugar’ (measured by ‘HbA1c’, which is a blood test used to measure the average blood sugar level over approximately the past two months).
  • A diet with a reduced carbohydrate content, a high protein content and a moderately increased fat content reduces liver fat content.
  • A diet with a reduced carbohydrate content may be beneficial to patients with type 2 diabetes – even if it does not lead to weight loss.

Source: University of Copenhagen


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