Livestock-based food necessary to combat malnutrition

New Delhi, Jun 9 (FN Representative) Sustainable consumption of livestock-based diets including meat, eggs, and milk are necessary to addresses malnutrition affecting pregnant mothers and children in low-income countries, UN Nutrition said on Wednesday. In a new report, “Livestock-Derived Foods and Sustainable Healthy Diets,” the UN agency said that plant-based diets alone are not enough to eliminate the global malnutrition crisis, which affects nearly 690 million people.

It said that animal-based diets like eggs or milk, which are rich in vitamins and minerals and can be easily absorbed in the digestive system, are ideal for reducing stunting that affects 149 million children worldwide. According to the report, a child would need to eat at least 12 times greater quantity of plant-based alternatives like carrots to gain the amount of vitamin A that is available in a small serving of eggs, milk, or meat. The report said resource-constrained households should be encouraged to consume animal-based proteins to reduce undernourishment and stunting.

Stineke Oenema, executive secretary of UN Nutrition, said that livestock-based diets have the potential to cushion low-income communities from malnutrition that impairs the physical and cognitive development of children. The report said that a trade-off is necessary to ensure that consumption of livestock-derived diets among food-insecure households is not detrimental to environmental sustainability, and that consumption of eggs, meat, and milk should factor in age, gender, and cultural diversity while ensuring that ecosystems that underpin the livelihoods of rural communities are not destabilized.

Sustainable livestock-derived food production and consumption can help us achieve multiple Sustainable Development Goals, mitigate climate change and secure a healthy planet,” said the report. Experts from the World Food Programme, the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute compiled the report.