Friend or foe? The role of animal foods

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Time and again, there is a debate about the importance of foods of animal origin for us. There are many polarizing issues on this topic, and sometimes it is unpleasant to get caught between the fronts of supporters and opponents.

Is our body dependent on animal foods? Are they recommended as part of a healthy diet? Does the production of animal foods harm the environment? An international team of scientists has investigated essential data on this topic. It has concluded that the numerous questions about the consumption of animal products cannot be answered with a clear “yes” or “no.” There are still many advantages and disadvantages.

What is certain is that intensive livestock farming that does not adhere to the EU’s organic regulation of land-based livestock farming is detrimental to the environment and the climate. This order stipulates that a farmer may only keep so many animals until the resulting manure contains no more than 170 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare. Converted means that a maximum of 2 cows, 14 pigs, or 230 hens can be kept per hectare to avoid overfertilization. So for our ecological footprint to be desirably smaller in the future, we should consume less food produced by or from animals.
However, we cannot do livestock farming altogether. This is because, worldwide, ruminants make poor soils usable for cultivating plant products in the first place. The ideal situation would be to allow animal and plant food production to occur in a healthy cycle so that the environment and natural resources are conserved, the scientists.

When it comes to the question of the importance of animal foods for a healthy diet, there are understandably different starting points. On the one hand, it is well known that meat consumption depends on the quantity and the type. Red meat, animal products with a high degree of processing or a high proportion of saturated fatty acids, contributes to an increased risk of well-known diseases of civilization, such as diseases of the cardiovascular system, diabetes mellitus, or cancer. Where a corresponding renunciation in favor of plant-based foods would be appropriate, an increased consumption could be recommended elsewhere in many regions of the world to enable an essential nutritional supply and to be able to counteract malnutrition. Lastly, animal foods also offer people in this country an excellent supplement to plant products to prevent an undersupply of essential nutrients and vital substances and, thus, malnutrition.

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