Importance of Sustainable Nutritional Habits For The World

Water footprint is the measurement of the volume of water that is polluted, evaporated and consumed. Water footprint is examined in 3 groups; green, gray and blue water footprint.

Blue water footprint; It is the amount of ground or surface water used to form the product.

Green water footprint; It is the rain water used to create the product.

Gray water footprint; It is the amount of fresh water required for the removal of pollutants as a result of the production of the product.

The use of water in food production has an important dimension. Especially in the production of animal products, more water is needed than plant-based products. Meat and other animal-based diets have a larger water footprint than vegetarian diets. For example, the water footprint of beef is 20 times greater than grains. Approximately 15 thousand liters of water is consumed for one kg of beef. (The amount of water required for production varies according to the production system and the feed used for the animal.)

Ranking of vegetables from less to more water footprint;

Tubers, fruits, cereals, oilseeds, legumes, nuts

Ranking of water footprints from less to more for foods of animal origin;

Milk, eggs, chicken, butter, cheese, goat meat

When the water footprint of foods is evaluated in terms of protein, 100 times more water is consumed in the production of 1 kg of animal protein compared to 1 kg of cereal protein.

When we look at the greenhouse gas emissions arising from the cultivation and production of various foods, animal protein-based foods (beef, sheep meat, some cheeses) create greenhouse gas emissions, just like the water footprint. Plant-based protein foods and cereals have low greenhouse gas emissions.

For this reason, the sustainability of diet models in which less consumption of meat and meat products and more vegetable protein sources are consumed is a very important issue for reducing water footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.

Considering the decrease in resources in the world and environmental pollution, instead of foods and nutrition models that have a high impact on the environment, foods and nutrition models that have a low impact on the environment should be chosen.

In order to protect universal health, all resources in the world should be used carefully and harm to the environment should be avoided. It is necessary to reduce the production stage, food waste, food losses (the losses that occur during the distribution of the edible parts of the food.) and economic losses. These losses cause waste of land, energy and water, but also create unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to all these, the amount of water used in food production should also be reduced.

The main principle of sustainable nutrition is to consume vegetables and fruits in season and to include more plant-based proteins in the diet. The water footprint and greenhouse gas emissions should be low and should also allow for food diversity with easy accessibility.

Mediterranean type diet has a healthy and balanced fat pattern, has a low glycemic index, and is high in fiber and antioxidant content. The Mediterranean diet is an important nutritional model because it can meet the nutrients and elements necessary for a healthy and quality life.

The Mediterranean diet, for a healthy adult, includes 8 servings of grains, 2-3 servings of vegetables, 4-6 servings of fruit, 2 servings of low-fat dairy products, at least 2 servings of fish per week (what fish eats is an important factor in the environmental effectiveness of fish consumption, and in the future). Since it is foreseen that there may be difficulties in finding fish sources, alternative sources should be found for omega-3 fatty acids.) Consumption of less than 2 servings of red meat and consumption of olive oil is recommended.

The basis of this nutrition model is the low consumption of food groups such as vegetables, fruits and cereals with low environmental impact and the low amount of animal consumption that creates a burden on the environment, which distinguishes the Mediterranean diet from other diet models.

The increase in population and the decrease in water, soil and food resources in the world in direct proportion to this increase may become a big problem for the world in the coming years. Therefore, action must be taken to protect our resources.

The Mediterranean diet is a sustainable nutrition model due to its positive health effects and low water footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. The public should be made aware and encouraged about the Mediterranean diet.