Reaching the Global Agenda through Vegetarianism as a One Health Strategy – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology
This article was written exclusively for The European Sting by Ms. Ana Carolina Alves de Oliveira and Thiago Gurgel Regis are both first year medical students at the Universidade do Estado do Rio Grande do Norte (UERN) in Mossoró, Brazil. They are affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), a cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this article are strictly the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of IFMSA on the subject, nor of The European Sting.
Veterinarian Albino Belotto has defined “one health” as the union of human, animal and environmental care, together, to achieve a successful strategy of public health efforts and ensure the well-being of populations. In this aspect, understanding how man and his systematic lifestyles can challenge the global agenda is essential for building a healthier, more conscious and more sustainable society.
From an integrated holistic health perspective, the vegetarian diet may be associated with better indicators of well-being. Originally, it was believed that a balanced diet should contain animal products, but studies have shown that vegetables can also provide the nutrients necessary for the preservation of life.
Vegetarianism responds to the recommendations of the main substances, such as proteins, iron, zinc, calcium and vitamins. In addition, it positively affects health by preventing diseases such as obesity, DM2, cancer, and gallstones. However, there are many motivations for the transition for those who go beyond the cultural convention of meat consumption, primarily motivated by the animal cause and respect for other ways of life.
From this perspective, vegetarian food is also associated with the ethical choice to boycott a production system of confinement, exploitation and slaughter of animals, because the understanding of animal sensitivity indicates that animals are capable of feeling pain and emotions and therefore deserve respectful treatment. and moral, as well as a strategy that sets itself apart from sectoral approaches and proposes a common solution in terms of human, animal and environmental prosperity.
On the other hand, it is worth highlighting the environmental impacts of agriculture, responsible for the consumption of about 96% of all fresh water available for use on the planet, which highlights the importance of l water footprint and unsustainability of this model. In addition, processes such as industrial fishing, aquatic farms, deforestation and pollution of water bodies cause environmental impoverishment, factors directly related to health, given the close relationship between the processes of health and disease of human beings and their environment, since society is made up of biopsychosocial beings.
In addition, the increase in the world’s population results in an increased demand for the production of cereals to feed slaughter animals, requiring resources that cannot be supplied by the environment in a sustainable manner. From this perspective, the use of these fodder plantation areas could also be oriented towards the planting of various vegetables for human consumption, which could have positive consequences in terms of food insecurity and the fight against hunger.
In this way, vegetarianism can be seen as a factor that can initially and positively impact persistent collective problems such as food insecurity, environmental degradation, animal suffering and the progression of chronic diseases. In summary, we must think of vegetarianism as a strategy to be adopted by society with impacts in all spheres of the “One Health” concept, as opposed to a reassessment of sectoral measures which do not think of a common solution offered from the lifestyle change.
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About the Authors
Ana Carolina Alves de Oliveira and Thiago Gurgel Regis are both first year medical students at the Universidade do Estado do Rio Grande do Norte (UERN) in Mossoró, Brazil. They are interns of the Local Council of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), directors of the University League of Applied Human Anatomy and work in extension projects related to public health. Both believe that education is the key to building a better world and want to be part of this change.