The Manila-based Asian Development Bank has recently stressed the need to move toward healthier and more sustainable eating diets that are environmentally friendly and affordable as the shifting food consumption pattern in the Asia Pacific over the decades has contributed to significant environmental impact in the region.
Developing Asia, including the Philippines, is facing a changing and more fragile environment as economies develop and become more urbanized. Increasing populations have resulted in higher food demand that include more resource intensive animal products.
ADB economist Manisha Pradhananga and research associate Daryll Naval emphasized that agriculture in the region is now facing a different kind of food supply challenge as higher incomes and increasingly urban lifestyles have changed the needs and preferences of customers.
The increasing share of meat and animal products has huge impacts on the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
Amid changing food preferences, Pradhananga and Naval emphasized that agriculture in the region has to reorient from a traditional focus on the production of food staples to high value crops such as fruits and vegetables. They urged the promotion of mostly plant-based diets, reduction of meat consumption, obtaining fish from sustainable stocks, and reducing food loss and waste throughout the supply chain. The good news with shifting food consumption patterns is it can be an offshoot of progress and development as people upgrade lifestyles.
However, we have seen that improvements can come with a price that we must be willing to pay. If we campaign now to promote healthier and sustainable choices and diets as aspirational goals while at the same time improving our production, supply and consumption chains to make the most of the food we produce while minimizing its impact on the environment; the quality of the future progress and development that our children and grandchildren can expect might be even better.*