Exhibition in Sligo Central Library

Exhibition in Sligo Central Library

Moving towards a plant-based diet

An exhibition will be on display in Sligo Central Library, Ballymote Community Library and Tubbercurry Community Library from the 12th-30th September 2023 based on the Climate + Health Alliance report “Fixing Food together: Transitioning Ireland to a healthy and sustainable food system”. The report urges us to rethink out diet for our own health but this would also benefit the planet. Moving to a more plant-based diet would be a healthy option all round.

Copies of the Climate + Health Alliance report “Fixing Food together: Transitioning Ireland to a healthy and sustainable food system” will be available to borrow or keep.

The average Irish adult’s daily diet exceeds planetary boundaries for Greenhous Gas Emissions by 226%. Investigators have calculated the sustainable amount of carbon that can be safely used to feed the human population and divided this amongst the current population of 8 billion people.

All recent research on the average Irish diet has concluded that what we eat is making us obese, less healthy and more prone to an early death.

The report advocates that Irish people move to a more plant-based diet, not only good for the planet but good for you.

Obesity rates in men have increased from 8% in men in 1990 to 26% in 2011 and have now increased even further. Women are not far behind with obesity rates rising from 13% to 21% in the same period.

In Ireland, cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) is one of the leading causes of death, accounting for over one in four (26.5%) of all deaths. At least 80% of premature cardiovascular disease (CVD) is preventable through lifestyle change alone, in which a healthy diet plays an important part.

One in 15 adults aged 20-79 years is estimated to have diabetes.

A major part of the report examines with changes that are needed in policy to make these changes a reality.  A substantial portion deals with the changes that you can make in what you eat to ensure that you and your family lead long and healthy lives.

We lead busy and demanding lives and the food industry has responded, producing what are known as “ultra-processed foods”, examples include confectionary, fried snacks, processed meats (e.g. sausages, black pudding), cakes and biscuits. A lot of these foods appear familiar but typically industrially produced ultra processed foods contain additives such as artificial flavours, emulsifiers, colouring, and sweeteners (which are less likely to go off than natural ingredients). Many also contain preservatives to increase their shelf life.

The foods may also contain substances from the packaging, they are in contact with.

These foods have been industrially produced to mimic a food that could have been produced in a kitchen, but you could not produce them in your own kitchen using the ingredients listed. You would probably not recognise the ingredients listed on the pack and if you don’t, the product is probably an ultra-processed food.

Recent research has indicated that some Irish people have diets that are composed of 42% ultra-processed food and this is climbing. On average we under-consume fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes (peas, beans, lentils), nuts and seafood.

If you are seeking a better way of feeding yourself and your family this talk, the exhibition and the report that accompanies it, should give you the information and motivation you need to make healthy changes in your diet. One piece of advice that nutrition experts have advocated for years is that we consume 5-7 portions of fruit or vegetables every day. In Ireland 66% of the population do not eat 5-7 portions of fruit or vegetables every day.

We all need to make changes in what we eat for our own health and the health of the planet.

Sligo County Library has organised these events to highlight the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the role we all should play in making these a reality.