Kale or steak? Change in diet key to U.N. plan to end hunger by 2030

Thu Sep 10, 2015 8:05pm EDT
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By Chris Arsenault

ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - In trendy, hipster London or New York, it's all about juicing, vegan diets and snacking on kale crisps. Thousands of miles away, in Nairobi or Bogota, the middle classes are more likely to reach for roasted goat or a juicy steak.

Later this month, world leaders are set to endorse a U.N. goal to eliminate hunger by 2030, but they will have to convince their citizens to adopt new eating habits first, experts say.

Diets must feature less red meat, which consumes 11 times more water and results in five times more climate-warming emissions than chicken or pork, according to a 2014 study.

The shift, like the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) themselves, must apply to both wealthy and developing nations, where consumption of ecologically unfriendly foods is growing fastest.

"Sustainable and healthy diets will require a move towards a mostly plant-based diet," said Colin Khoury, a biologist at the Colombia-based International Centre for Tropical Agriculture.

Other key changes needed are cutting food waste and combating poor nutrition, he added.

There are some signs the public is starting to take such advice on board. They include the release of an "EatBy" app that reminds consumers to use up food in the fridge, and a new social network to help people adopt a "climatarian" diet that shuns meat from gassy grazing animals, such as beef and lamb.

More than 1 million people have also signed an online petition calling on European ministers to pass laws and launch national action plans aimed at meeting a target in the SDGs to halve global food waste per capita by 2030.    Continued...

Kale grows on the Chino family farm in Rancho Santa Fe, California March 7, 2013.     REUTERS/Mike Blake