Alice Stanton, Professor of Cardiovascular Therapeutics,

School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences
RCSI University of Medicine & Health Sciences

Animal and Plant Source Foods and Human Health – Reflections on “Too Little” and “Too Much”

The world in 2023 faces climate and biodiversity crises. The food system contributes importantly to both of these crises. Hence, there is indeed a need for transformation, so that all have access to healthy diets, while at the same time safeguarding the planet’s health. The details of how that is best achieved is the subject of considerable debate – how much change should come from each section of the food system – how much change from food production, processing, distribution and retailing and how much from consumption? Many recent publications have identified dietary shift as the key food system transformation. Doubling intakes of many plant-source foods, and considerable reductions in, or even total exclusion of, animal-source foods from the human diet, have been proposed. In this presentation, the reliability of the claims for benefits for human health from universal adoption of such plant-based diets will be examined. The World Health Organisation describes healthy diets as “helping to protect against malnutrition in all its forms, as well as chronic noncommunicable diseases.” The likely impacts of dramatic reductions in nutrient-rich animal-source foods on protein and micronutrient adequacies will be considered. The nature, quality and certainty of the evidence underlying the dose-response relationships of meat and dairy intakes with obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and cancers will be discussed.

Speaker/Chair Bio:

Professor Alice Stanton is a clinician-scientist. Current roles include; Professor of Cardiovascular Therapeutics at the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, and Consultant concerning Healthy Sustainable Diets. She served on the Committee developing “Ireland’s Agri-food Strategy to 2030”, and as an Assembly Member for the Horizon Europe Cancer Mission. She is a Member of the Irish Climate and Health Coalition, the World Action against Salt, Sugar, and Health (WASSH), Meat Technology Ireland, and the Scientific Council of World Farmers Organisation. She has authored in excess of 150 peer-reviewed published papers (Scopus h-index 60), and delivered many lectures concerning evidence-based healthy diets from sustainable food systems. Recently, she authored an important perspective, published in npj Science of Food, which robustly questions the use of substandard metrics in policy decisions which mandate large reductions in animal-source foods.