For years the United Nations and other NGOs have been telling people — mostly Western nations — that the consumption of animal based food is bad for the environment, and health..But now, a new report from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FOA) says meat, eggs and milk are an “essential source of nutrients which cannot easily be obtained from plant-based foods,” especially for developing nations..This is particularly vital during key stages of life, FAO said, including pregnancy and lactation, youth, adolescence and even old age. The study, dubbed "Contribution of terrestrial animal source food to healthy diets for improved nutrition and health outcomes," is based on data from more than 500 scientific papers and 250 policy documents from around the globe..If consumed as part of a healthy diet, FAO said animal-based foods can help with meeting nutrition targets endorsed by the World Health Assembly to prevent stunting and wasting of children under five, low birthweights, anemia and even obesity and non-communicable diseases in adults..“Meat, eggs and milk provide a range of important macro-nutrients such as protein, fats and carbohydrates and micro-nutrients that are difficult to obtain from plant based foods in the required quality and quantity,” the report says. . Canada Food Guide .“High quality protein, a number of essential fatty-acids, iron, calcium, zinc, selenium, Vitamin B12, choline and bioactive compounds like carnitine, creatine, taurine are provided by foods from terrestrial animals and have important health and developmental functions.”.A lack of vitamin A and iron are the most common nutritional deficiencies around the world, especially in children and pregnant women. Globally, more than 372 million preschool aged children — one in two — and 1.2 billion women suffer from a lack of at least one of three micronutrients: iron, vitamin A or zinc..Beef liver happens to be an excellent source of all three..Not surprising, three quarters of those affected live in south and east Asia, the Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa. Also not surprising, consumption of food from terrestrial animals varies widely around the world. .A person in the Democratic Republic of the Congo consumes on average only 160 grams of milk a year, while someone in Montenegro consumes 338 kg. Looking at eggs, a person in South Sudan consumes 2 grams on average a year compared to an average 25 kg for a person in Hong Kong. The average person in Burundi consumes just three kg of meat a year, compared to 136 kg for someone living in Hong Kong..At the same time, the livestock sector “must contribute to addressing a range of challenges,” wrote FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo and Chief Economist Máximo Torero Cullen in a foreword to the report.. Dairy consumptionDairy consumption .These include environmental issues related to deforestation, land-use changes, greenhouse-gas emissions, unsustainable water and land use, pollution, herd management, overgrazing, poor animal welfare in addition to animal health related issues such as diseases and antimicrobial resistance. It also identified human-livestock related issues such as zoonotic and food-borne diseases, and social issues..As to evidence of risks from consuming animal sourced food, the report says consuming unprocessed red meat in moderate amounts (ranging from 9 to 71 grams per day) may have minimal risk “but is considered safe with regards to chronic disease outcomes.”.Meanwhile the evidence of any links between milk, eggs and poultry consumption in healthy adults and diseases such as coronary heart disease, strokes and hypertension is inconclusive (for milk) or non-significant (for eggs and poultry)..Consequently the FAO’s Committee on Agriculture Sub-Committee on Livestock encouraged governments to update national dietary guidelines to consider, where appropriate, how meat, eggs and milk can contribute to specific nutrient requirements..That should be welcome news for Canadian meat and dairy producers who were infuriated after the Canada Food Guide was updated in 2019 to place more emphasis on vegetarian and vegan food options. .According to Statistics Canada, milk consumption for instance has been on the decline since 2009, along with meat, for health or ethical reasons. Overall milk consumption peaked at 98 litres per person in 1979 and fell to about 60.5 litres in 2021.