Over 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year throughout the world. At the same time, however, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that about 815 million people, or 10.7 per cent of the global population, suffered from chronic undernourishment in 2016. Food waste occurs for a number of different reasons, however one common source is over-ordering at restaurants. This is a common practice throughout Asia, particularly Vietnam, where providing abundant food for guests is common practice. However, this means that a striking amount of food is wasted at eateries throughout the country, particularly after large parties and celebrations. While food waste is a tragedy when the number of people starving in the world is considered, research has shown that it is also contributing to climate change. This is because the rotting food emits carbon, contributing to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, while its production also wastes valuable land and natural resources. If it were not used for food that is wasted, this land could be left wild, increasing biodiversity, protecting vulnerable wildlife and taking carbon from the air. Secretary General of the UN and CEO of UNEP Achim Seiner said: "The global population is currently 7 billion and is expected to rise to 9 billion by 2050. Wasted food not only impacts the economy and the environment, but it is also a moral issue. We urge people all over the world to raise awareness and reduce waste in their homes, on the farm, in supermarkets, in restaurants, hotels and wherever food is consumed." Meanwhile, José Graziano da Silva, General Manager of the International Agricultural and Food Organization, said that, in industrialised regions, nearly half of all food produced is wasted. Every year, manufacturers, retailers and consumers discard around 300 million tons of edible food. Mr Graziano da Silva said: "This waste is more than the gross food production of sub-Saharan Africa, or enough to feed about 870 million people that are currently going hungry worldwide." Artwork While this food is wasted, however, every year an estimated 20,000 young children under the age of five are starving. Vegetarian: Save yourself, Save the Earth "Be vegetarian, live green and save the earth" is the tagline of a vegetarian-cooking contest that will be held in Hue to mark World Environment Day this year. According to Bui Cach Tuyen, Chairman of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, eating a vegetarian diet is not only a spiritual practice and good for our health, but it is also the single most effective action anyone can take to protect the environment. Bui Cach Tuyen said: “The production of meat is far more damaging to the environment than the production of vegetables and grains. A typical meat eater's diet requires up to 2.5 times the amount of land compared to a vegetarian diet, and 5 times that of a vegan diet. “Making space for livestock leads to environmental degradation, reducing the number of trees available to reduce carbon from the atmosphere, while the methane emitted by the animals is also contributing significantly to greenhouse gases.” The minister added that the over consumption of meat is also linked to many diseases including obesity, type II diabetes and gout. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that, currently, around 2.3 billion people in the world are overweight while 700 million people are obese. Moreover, it estimates that 374 million people live with diabetes, 80 per cent of whom live in low and medium income countries. By the year 2030, the WHO estimates that the number of deaths from diabetes will double. A vegetarian diet that includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds – and that is low in refined sugars and processed foods like cakes and sweets – is one of the best ways to tackle food related illnesses while also being the single most powerful thing anyone can do to protect the environment. Tue Khanh-Vnmedia

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