Meat-loving Spain endangers its own health and that of the planet

by Lorraine Williamson
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MADRID – The fact that Spaniards love meat is not news. However, advice and conclusions from health authorities and nutritionists show that the Spanish are putting their health and the planet at risk every day.

On average, Spaniards eat two to three times as much meat as recommended by health authorities and experts. Consequently, nutritionists emphasise eating less is not only important for your own health but also that of a sustainable planet. 

Spaniards eat two to three times more meat per week than recommended 

The Spanish news site La Sexta wrote on Thursday about the contrast between meat consumption figures in Spain and recommendations from various international and national health organisations. In total, a Spaniard eats an average of 53.6 kilos of meat per year. This equates to more than 1 kilo per week. Whereas, the health authority’s recommendation is to eat a maximum of between 300 and 500 grams per week. 

International committee recommends low-meat diet for a sustainable planet 

According to experts, exceeding this amount of meat is not only bad for your health, but also does not contribute to a sustainable planet. The pollution and principle of mass livestock farming are examples of this. 

The scientific committee EAT-Lancet, a panel of 37 scientists from 16 countries, found that for a world population of 10 billion people in 2050 a diet of 98 grams of red meat (beef, pork, or lamb) and 203 grams of poultry per week responsible for preserving a sustainable planet. 

Clear conclusion about diet for a healthy world 

The scientists’ conclusions are clear: by 2050, consumption of vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds should have doubled and global consumption of sugars and red meat should be cut by more than half, especially in the richer countries. 

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Spaniards eat over 700 grams more meat per week than recommended 

If this advice is accepted worldwide, Spain will be one of the countries that will have to adapt the most. According to the EAT-Lancet model, the Spaniard eats 730 grams more meat per week than recommended. Especially the eating of processed meat stands out in Spain. It has already been scientifically proven that this poses long-term health risks. People who eat more than 50 grams of processed meat daily have an 18% higher risk of colon cancer. 

Spaniards also exceed national nutritional advice 

The advice of EAT-Lancet is very strict, but if the advice of the AESAN, the Spanish food safety agency, is followed, the Spaniards still exceed the recommended amount of meat. The AESAN recommends 2-4 servings of meat per week, preferably chicken and rabbit, and no more than two servings of red meat per week. However, based on this advice, Spaniards eat more than double the recommended amount. 

Advice to Spaniards: eat less meat 

However, all health authorities consulted emphasise it is not necessary to go completely vegetarian. Meat also contains important proteins and nutrients such as iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. A good substitute for meat is legumes, such as lentils and beans, as they also contain the same nutrients. 

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