Plant-based diet for health and environment - review by WHO

24 FEBRUARY 2022
WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) published a factsheet reviewing the evidence of the impact of plant-based diet on health and environment.
As part of a healthy lifestyle, a diet that is predominantly plant-based and low in salt, saturated fats, added sugars, red and processed meat is widely associated with a lower risk of premature mortality and offer protection against NCDs, responsible for 71% of all premature deaths. WHO recommends consuming at least 400 g of fruits and vegetables per day, including dried fruit. A healthy plant-based diet also includes whole and minimally processed plant foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.
On the other hand, some ultra-processed foods, despite being plant-based (i.e., meat and dairy substitutes) have a high energy density and tend to be high in sodium, saturated fat and free sugars, and lacking in dietary fibre and in vitamins and minerals and therefore need to be consumed in moderation. In this context, there is a need for a well-established knowledge base to build strong, effective policy to guide industry, giving consumers specific advice about what kinds of foods can replace meat and dairy, and developing reformulation targets that not only cover meat and dairy but also their substitutes.