09 Jun Animal-source foods for human and planetary health
The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) has published their position on the role of animal-sourced foods (ASF) in sustainably improving nutrition globally.
GAIN illustrates the importance of ASF in a nutritious diet. This is particularly important in reducing risk of undernutrition among vulnerable groups, especially children. It highlights the superior nature of ASF in terms of nutrient content and bioavailability, as well as the important contribution animal agriculture makes on livelihoods and ecosystems globally. The paper does acknowledge the environmental impact of animal sourced foods and the need for the livestock industry to do better.
It is possible for individuals on a vegan or vegetarian diet, if they have the resources and means, to meet their nutrition requirements through a combination of plant-based foods and relatively expensive supplements. However, this is not affordable and accessible for everyone. The GAIN paper highlights that people in low and middle income countries tend to especially be low in iron, vitamin A, zinc, calcium, and high-quality protein. Most low-income consumers in these nations would benefit from sustainably increasing consumption of animal-sourced foods to provide the nutrients needed for better health and development.
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