The ‘Planetary Health Diet’ Is the Only Diet to Consider This Year
A first-of-its-kind science-based diet aimed at saving individual health and the world has been released by a global commission of doctors and scientists. If followed, it would save the lives of 11 million people each year, stall climate change and prevent environmental destruction.
The Planetary Health Diet calls for the consumption of sugar and red meat to fall by half, globally, and the consumption of vegetables, fruit, pulses and nuts to double.
“The planetary health diet is based on really hard epidemiological evidence, where researchers followed large cohorts of people for decades,” Marco Springmann, a professor at Oxford University and member of the report commission, told The Guardian. “It so happens that if you put all that evidence together you get a diet that looks similar to some of the healthiest diets that exist in the real world.”
Good news: one of those diets is a common Indian diet, full of dals and vegetables, with little red meat. This diet was cited by the report to defend the feasibility of the new food recommendations. Diets in North America, however, are urged to include 85% less red meat, and six times more beans and lentils. And while the Mediterranean diet was also cited as proof of feasibility, Europeans at large are urged to consume 77% less red meat and 15 times more nuts and seeds.
The report, published in the international medical journal The Lancet, which commissioned the report in partnership with the NGO Eat Forum, also calls for a sharp reduction in global food waste.
If taken up by the global population — which the experts acknowledge would be difficult — the diet would put the world on the path to sustainable food consumption even as the Earth’s population balloons to 10 billion by 2050. It would also do much to stem the growing burden of poor dietary health; globally, The Guardian reports, 800 million people do not have enough to eat, 2 billion are malnourished, and 2 billion are overweight or obese.
The commission’s experts stress the Planetary Health Diet isn’t about eating less. “We are not talking about a deprivation diet here; we are talking about a way of eating that can be healthy, flavorful and enjoyable,” Walter Willett, a Harvard University professor and one of the leaders of the report commission, told The Guardian.
The diet calls for consuming roughly 2,500 calories each a day. While the diet is largely vegetarian, it does allow for one serving of red meat, and two servings of fish each week — but on a daily basis, most of the nourishment is vegetarian; a single meal under the diet, however, would comprise half a plate of vegetables and fruits, and one-third of whole grains.