(Note from Erin: I probably sound like a broken record but I always want to make sure people understand me. I live a plant-based life but would never force that on anyone. I report and share the news that I know my readers want to see; what you do with it is up to you. Eat meat or don’t, just be the healthiest you can be. The planet needs you!)
If we are going to eat and avoid “global environment catastrophe”1 we’ve got to make some changes. And for that reason, scientists have devised the first ever science-based diet that will feed the world and not tax our environment. But hint, it’s going to require “huge cuts in red meat-eating in western countries”2 and still other radical worldwide changes. This new diet for our planet and its inhabitants was created by an international commission and published in the Lancet. It’s also been given to policymakers in 40 cities around the world. (Food waste must also be halved to 15%.)
“Globally, the diet requires red meat and sugar consumption to be cut by half, while vegetables, fruit, pulses and nuts must double. But in specific places the changes are stark. North Americans need to eat 84% less red meat but six times more beans and lentils. For Europeans, eating 77% less red meat and 15 times more nuts and seeds meets the guidelines.”3
According to scientists, this diet will save at least 11 million people a year from deaths caused by unhealthy food and prevent “the collapse of the natural world that humanity depends upon.”4
And this diet couldn’t come at a better time. There are 10 billion people expected to live on Earth by 2050 and our current eating habits are not sustainable.
“Unhealthy diets are the leading cause of ill health worldwide, with 800 million people currently hungry, 2 billion malnourished and further 2 billion people overweight or obese. The world’s science academies recently concluded that the food system is broken. Industrial agriculture is also devastating the environment, as forests are razed and billions of cattle emit climate-warming methane.”5
Curious about what would be on your plate under the new guidelines? Worried you’ll be deprived? Here’s what you’ll get:6
- at 2,500 calories a day the planetary health diet is largely plant-based
- allows for one beef burger and two servings of fish a week
- one glass of milk a day, or some cheese or butter
- one or two eggs a week
- half of each plate is vegetables and fruit
- one third wholegrain cereal
While these red meat numbers sound small, they aren’t actually; a very large part of the world eats that much or less on a weekly basis.
The commission responsible for the report believes that a red meat tax, as well as laws to restrict the expansion of farmland and ocean protections, must also be considered to successfully implement the plan.
“…Richard Horton and Tamara Lucas, editors at the Lancet, said in an editorial that global changes as set out by the planetary health diet were essential: “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.”
These are big changes but they are also completely do-able. Would you be willing to drastically change your diet?