Meat group says New Zealand already adopting diet recommendations

A meat industry group says a new international report on diet highlights the importance of sustainable, grass-fed red meat produced in countries such as New Zealand

The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health brings together more than 30 world-leading scientists to reach a scientific consensus that defines a healthy and sustainable diet.

It has just delivered first full scientific review of what constitutes a healthy diet from a sustainable food system, and which actions can support and speed up food system transformation.

It recommends doubling consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes, and  halving of meat and sugar intake.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand's chief insight officer, Jeremy Baker, says New Zealand is already adopting many of the strategies recommended by the report's authors.

"This includes committing to healthy diet goals, reorienting agricultural priorities to producing high-quality healthy food in a sustainable way, and supporting biodiversity.

"It is also important to remember EAT-Lancet is making many of its recommendations based on farming systems not commonly used in New Zealand, such as grain-fed livestock production when in fact we are a world leader in producing grass-fed red meat."

The report recommends increasing the intake of nuts, fruits and vegetables.
The report recommends increasing the intake of nuts, fruits and vegetables. Photo credit: Getty

However, the report's recommendations on red meat consumption differ from current national and global health guidelines.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand head of nutrition Fiona Greig, a registered nutritionist, is concerned the report suggest cutting down on meat.

"We support a range of healthy dietary patterns with and without meat, however I have concerns that the suggested reduction could have implications for vulnerable groups, especially young women who may already be suffering from nutrient deficiencies," she said.

"Advocating a plant-based diet is not new and is something Beef and Lamb New Zealand has been advising for over two decades.

"Our advice has always been to ensure when eating red meat, that three-quarters of your plate is made up of plant-based foods."