Posted on August 31, 2012 · Posted in News

The typical Scottish diet contains too few fruits and vegetables and too much sugar and animal fats.  This combination is not only bad for our health but unsustainable for the environment.

Currently over 60% of the UK population are either overweight or obese.1   It is predicted that the population is predicted to reach 70 million by 2027, an increase of over 5 million.2  More people, getting heavier and heavier, requiring more food to sustain ever increasing body weights.  How are we to produce enough food whilst reducing the environmental impacts?

A more Mediterranean style diet based on plenty of fruits, vegetables, pulses such as lentils and beans, nuts, and olive oil will benefit both our health and our environment.  Animal proteins such as beef, chicken, lamb and pork use more natural resources to produce in comparison to plant proteins such as wheat, maize, barley, rye and oats.  The conversion of grain to edible meat is quite inefficient.  6kg of plant protein is required to make 1kg of animal protein.3  The production of animal protein requires 50 times more water than plant protein. 3  A better use for grain is for direct consumption in the food chain. 

This is not to say don’t eat animal protein, far from it.  Meat, chicken, pork and lamb are excellent sources of high biological value protein.  This means they contain all our essential amino acids, the building blocks for proteins in the body that we require.  Animal proteins are also great sources of iron readily available in the body.  The average UK diet contains more protein than we need, with much of it based on processed and fatty meats such as sausages, burgers and processed meats.   Aim to choose a better quality meat cut rather than quantity.  Aim to buy the best quality cuts that you can afford, with portions no bigger than your fist.  A good butcher will guide you on price and also how to make the most of your cuts. 

Base meals around fruits, vegetables, cereals and pulses.  Pulses such as lentils, peas, and beans are excellent sources of vegetarian proteins.  They are not such good biological value proteins but can be mixed and matched with cereal proteins from wheat, maize, barley, rye and oats to achieve all our essential amino acids. 

Summary

  • Reduce your intake of animal fats such as processed meats
  • Choose leaner cuts of meat and keep portions to the size of your fist
  • Aim to make half your evening meal vegetable based
  • Aim to eat 5 or more servings of fruit daily

 

1.http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/10/1138/0

2. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/npp/national-population-projections/2010-based-projections/index.html

3. Garton L.2012.  CN Focus; 4(1): 37-39

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