There’s no shortage of new diets to follow in January, but scientists have developed a new eating plan that promises to save the planet. The ‘planetary health diet’ was drawn up by an international commission to address the world’s rising population and avert environmental issues.
With 10 billion people expected to live on the planet by 2050, a change in diet is necessary for both humanity and to prevent global warming. Scientists say that their food and drink plan will save the deaths of 11 million people caused by unhealthy diets, and stop the collapse of the natural world, based on the impact of industrial agriculture.
Richard Horton and Tamara Lucas, editors at the Lancet medical journal, where the report was published, say; “Civilisation is in crisis. We can no longer feed our population a healthy diet while balancing planetary resources. If we can eat in a way that works for our planet as well as our bodies, the natural balance will be restored.”
So how does it work?
The planetary health diet is largely plant-based; fruits and vegetables should form half of every plate of food we eat. Meat is still fine, but we need to be eating a lot less of it, particularly red meats such as beef, lamb and pork. The diet allows for one beef burger and two helpings of fish per week. Although followers can still eat chicken and fish regularly, plants are the main source of proteins with nuts and legumes used as substitutes.
This is the daily breakdown:
- Nuts – 50g a day
- Beans, chickpeas, lentils and other legumes– 75g a day
- Fish – 28g a day
- Eggs – 13g a day (so one and a bit a week)
- Meat – 14g a day of red meat and 29g a day of chicken
- Carbs – whole grains like bread and rice 232g a day and 50g a day of starchy vegetables
- Dairy – 250g – the equivalent of one glass of milk
- Vegetables -(300g) and fruit (200g)
The diet has room for 31g of sugar and about 50g worth of oils like olive oil.
What changes do we have to make?
The cut-down on meat will be the biggest difference to Northern America and Europe. Americans will need to eat 84 per cent less red meat, and six times more beans and lentils. Europeans will need to consume 77 per cent less red meat and 15 times more nuts and seeds to meet the guidelines. However, changes will required across the globe. Africans will be affected by the diet’s anti-starchy vegetables (potatoes and corn, for example), while East Asia will need to reduce its fish intake. A tax on red meat is being discussed in order to help us meet these guidelines.
But won’t I be hungry?
No, the planetary health diet allows on average 2,500 calories a day and offers a varied array of foods. “There’s tremendous variety there,” Professor Willett told the BBC. “You can take those foods and put them together in thousands of different ways. We’re not talking about a deprivation diet here, it is healthy eating that is flexible and enjoyable.” He added that a strictly vegan lifestyle might not necessarily be the healthiest route or indeed the most effective in achieving the commission’s numerous goals: “If we were just minimising greenhouse gases we’d say everyone be vegan.”
So how will this diet save the world?
As well as preventing 11 million deaths every year due to unhealthy lifestyles that can cause heart attacks, strokes and some cancers, the science-based diet will also have a hugely positive impact on the environment by minimising greenhouse gas emissions, preventing any species going extinct, having no expansion of farmland and preserving water.
From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK