World Food Safety Day – Shifting towards the food system of today and tomorrow
7 June 2021
More than ever before, food safety has become a global concern as well as a shared responsibility between governments, producers, and consumers. The health crisis has shown how broad the impact of zoonotic epidemics can be. What we eat, where our food comes from, and how it is produced and processed should be key priorities in creating a safe and healthy food system. Today is World Food Safety Day, and an appropriate moment to stress the importance of moving towards plant-based diets so that our food systems can become more sustainable, resilient, and healthier.
Farmed and wild animals as food
Recognising the connections between the health of humans, animals, and the environment is essential in creating a safe and healthy food system. When it comes to food safety, there is compelling evidence that certain human activities increase the risk of pandemics. In previous blogs, we explored some of these, including the destruction of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity, the use of wild animals as food, and, last but not least, the use of farmed animals as food. While protecting ecosystems and biodiversity can contribute to food safety, reducing our consumption of animal products is also key. The use of both wild and farmed animals as food results in an increased likelihood of virus outbreaks, thus creating ideal conditions for viral mutation, spillover, and spread to humans and wild animals. A transition towards plant-based diets can help prevent this endless feedback loop.
In addition to the risks of newly emerging pathogens, there are other factors that can further exacerbate the overall impact of zoonotic pandemics. In our previous blog we explored other communicable food-borne diseases. We’ll now take a closer look at the third factor – non-communicable diet-related diseases.
The impact of our lifestyles leads not only to the destruction of the environment, but is also linked to non-communicable diet-related diseases as well as to communicable food-borne diseases, thus increasing both the risk and severity of pandemics. A radical transformation of our food systems by shifting towards more plant-based diets is not only necessary for the climate and the environment – it is also important for our health since so many diseases are diet-related. As well as preventing non-communicable food-related diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and obesity, plant-rich lifestyles can also help to reduce the risk of future pandemics.
By exploring the crucial connection between the current crisis and our animal-based food system, the ProVeg Food & Pandemics Report highlights how our food choices help to create a recipe for zoonotic pandemics. By shifting to plant-based and cultured foods, we can help to minimise the risk of future pandemics as well as helping to resolve many of the other key challenges we face, including climate change, biodiversity loss, world hunger, antimicrobial resistance, and the rise of other food-related diseases.
How to prevent further pandemics
So how can we create a safe food system today for a healthy tomorrow? Food safety is everyone’s business and we all have a role to play. While consumers need to understand the connection between the production of their food and the contents of their plates, policymakers must develop bold and uncompromising food policies in order to substantially improve food safety.
Because our diets are so deeply ingrained in our identity, it is not always easy for people to change their eating habits. To help people shift towards a more plant-based diet, ProVeg has developed the Veggie Challenge app, which is freely available and provides a personalised action plan. For policymakers who need strong scientific evidence to institute new policies, ProVeg has published the Food and Pandemics Report, which provides all the information you need.
Join the ProVeg Veggie Challenge and try eating more plant-based for 30 days. It’s better for your health, better for the planet and better for animals. Get a healthy start with your personal Challenge. We’ll help you along the way with free tips, recipes and support.