World Food Day 2019: plant-based diet shift vital to solving nutrition crisis

Doctors For Nutrition welcomes the theme of this year’s World Food Day and its clear message: that putting plants back at the centre of our plates is essential to ensuring healthy, sustainable diets are accessible to all – now and for generations to come.


Current food systems are failing


Our current food systems are failing to ensure food security and healthy nutrition for all. Food systems are also contributing to climate change and environmental degradation – and without a healthy planet we cannot sustain a healthy population.


Image: fao.org/world-food-day

Urgent action is needed to address all forms of malnutrition


In its recent report on food security and nutrition, the UN warned that the number of undernourished people in the world is increasing. More than 820 million people do not have enough to eat, but at the same time, rates of overweight and obesity continue to increase in all regions.


An unhealthy diet is the leading risk factor for deaths from noncommunicable diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and several common cancers. Health problems linked to obesity are costing national health budgets up to US$2 trillion per year.


World Food Day 2019


The UN’s World Food Day – marked annually on 16 October – emphasises that achieving Zero Hunger is not only about addressing hunger, but also nourishing people, while nurturing the planet.


This year’s slogan is “Our actions are our future. Healthy diets for a #ZeroHunger world”, and the extensive World Food Day website is packed with tips and resources on how we can be part of the solution.


Its guidance on diet choices is a key part of this, and the message is clear: we need to move away from processed foods and excessive consumption of meat, and put plants front and centre:

"Eat plenty of fresh, ripe and seasonal vegetables and fruits daily and add more legumes, nuts and whole grains to your diet. Legumes and nuts are great sources of plant-based protein. What’s more, legumes can be cheaper than animal proteins. They’re also kinder on our planet."

DFN co-founder Dr Heleen Roex welcomes this message and encourages fellow healthcare professionals, policy makers and the general public to take the guidance to heart. “The best way we can nurture both personal and planetary health is by de-emphasising animal products in our diets and shifting to a whole food plant-based eating pattern”.

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We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and Tangata Whenua of the lands and waters across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand where we live and work, and pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging​. We aspire to learn from First Peoples’ traditional understanding of health as a multi-dimensional concept, embracing environmental, community and individual wellbeing.

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