Asians urged to eat more fruits, veggies


Experts from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Asia’s carbon footprint could expand as higher incomes have allowed Asians to increase their meat consumption.

In an Asian Development Blog, ADB Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department Economist Manisha Pradhananga and Research Associate Daryll Naval said many Asians now enjoy higher incomes and urban lifestyles leading to a more meat-based diet.

Pradhananga and Naval said this highlights the need to adopt plant-based diets as well as reduce red meat consumption and food waste to make agriculture more environmentally friendly.

“It is important to move toward sustainable and healthy diets that are also socially acceptable and economically accessible for all,” they said.

“Some ways to achieve this are to promote mostly plant-based diets, reduce red meat consumption, promote fish obtained from sustainable stocks, and reduce food loss and waste throughout the supply chain.”

Pradhananga and Naval shared data that showed that in 1961, when food supply was still a problem in many economies, the daily calorie intake per capita in the region was 1,245 kilo calories (kcal).

Using 2018 data, the daily calorie intake per capita in the region increased to 1,914 kcal. The share of meat and animal products rose to 4 percent in 2018 from 1 percent in 1961.

While this represented over a six-fold increase in protein intake to 10 grams per person per day in 2018 from animal meat from 1.5 grams in 1961, the authors said this level of consumption remained below that of advanced countries which was pegged at 34.6 grams.

“Instead of a diet heavy on traditional staples such as rice and wheat, consumers today prefer a more diverse diet. Per capita consumption of rice has leveled off; while that of fruit, vegetables, eggs, dairy products, as well as meat and seafood is increasing,” they said.

Plant-based diets, the authors said, consume less of the planet’s resources and lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Based on the data, greenhouse gas emissions caused by animal based food items can reach up to 226.3 per million kcal consumed for beef. As for plant-based foods, pulses recorded the highest emission at 6.9 per million kcal.

Water resources used for meat-based productions are also bigger compared to plant-based products, according to the authors.

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