The food of the third millennium: meat or cereals? PART 1
Every day, the world population increases by 230,000 souls; every day, 230,000 extra that require food.
In 1800, the world population reached the figure of 1 billion. In the early twentieth century, our planet had one billion and six hundred millions of inhabitants. Now, there are over 6 billion. And 98% of the world population growth occurs in poor and developing countries. What will be the food of the third millennium? Meat or cereals?
By definition, the optimal diet is the one that promotes health and longevity and preventing the nutritional deficiencies and reducing the risk of chronic diseases related to diet – we refer to the diet that consists of available food for consumption, safe and tasty.
Although the human diet recommended originally was purely vegetarian, in history, different societies have adopted a wide variety of ways of food from the plants and animals available, depending on occupation, geographical location, climate and economic situation.
The fact that we exist is the obvious evidence that the societies diet in ancient times offered sufficient nutrients and energy to sustain the growth and reproduction. To what extent were the different ways of feeding also the healthiest is a problem that we don’t discuss now.
Without plants, there wouldn’t be human history or prehistory. Plants have sustained the mankind since its earliest beginnings. Worldwide, today most food still comes from plants, which offers us carbohydrates – the body fuel – proteins, fats, but also fiber, minerals, vitamins and all others micro constituents needed for life and health. If we don’t forget that most animals consumed by people feed on plants, then the vegetables role in supporting life becomes even more obvious.
When a seed germinates and a trickle comes out from the ground, just then begins the photosynthesis, the process that feeds the plant as it grows. Photosynthesis is a chemical process that occurs in the particles called chloroplasts, which are found in the green parts of the plants. Chlorophyll – the green pigment in plants – captures the sun’s energy, which the plant uses to form glucides from carbon dioxide and water. The waste product of this reaction is the oxygen, which is used in part by the plant itself to breathe, and the rest is released into the air, providing the oxygen required for the majority living organisms.
The capacity to produce sugar and oxygen from carbon dioxide and water, makes the plant the dynamic that sustains the entire life on earth. Available data claim that, in the course of human history, meat was an expensive food, so the majority of inhabitants lives on the planet was supported by products of plant origin, including cereals, potatoes and vegetables have played a predominant role. However, the extent of improving the economic conditions, the population in poor countries tend to consume more meat, and is observed today in developing countries confirms the relation that exist between animal products alimentation and degenerative diseases, typical for the residents of rich countries.
Don’t believe, however, that in western Europe were always consumed large amounts of meat from our days. In Germany, for example, in 1816, the consumption of meat and meat products, per person was 13.7 kg; in 1900, 47 kg; in 1975, 83 kg and 1993, 95.5 kg.
Since the mid-1950s, scientists observed that at the same time with the animal products consumption increase, the frequency of atherosclerosis, neoplasia, stroke, diabetes and other chronic and degenerative diseases, increases as well.
Based on these observations, to prevent these affections, in the late 1970s, the United States nutritionists began to recommend the reduction of calories ingested by reducing the fat intake, particularly those of animal origin, cholesterol, sugar, alcohol, salt and increasing the consumption of complex carbohydrates and foods that contain fiber. Then was recommended to eat fewer foods of animal origin – meat, milk and derivatives, eggs, fats and oils.
The most vehement protests against these recommendations came from the food industry, concerned by the income reduction. Maybe it’s hard to believe, but after these protests the US government changed the wording from “eat less meat ” to that of ” have daily two or three meat servings”.
The research that followed confirmed the benefits of vegetarian diet in preventing coronary heart disease, cancer and diabetes. In the United States occur 1 million deaths annually due to unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyle. A million deaths per year, which could be avoided!
Considering that sufficient evidence exists to combat fear for some nutritional deficits, in 1997, the American Dietary Association acknowledged that “a vegetarian diet, well planned, is healthy and nutritionally adequate, offering advantages in the prevention and treatment of diseases “.