Want a healthy diet and to play your part in a sustainable food system? Look no further! The planetary diet was born out of desire to provide nutritious food to the worlds fast growing population whilst preserving the planet. According to researchers, the Earth can only handle up to 10 billion people and without the global adaptation of the diet, the planet will not be able to cope. It was created by 37 scientists from around the world who formed the EAT-lancet commission.
This “diet” might appeal to those of you who don’t find being vegan or vegetarian appealing but still want to do their bit for the planet. Although this sounds like a great way to reduce environmental damage whilst maintaining your health, a professor from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says “there is a major question about the ability of populations to shift to such dietary recommendations and their wider public acceptability”.
For this to work, Western countries would have to cut back drastically on the amount of meat they eat. East Asia would need to heavily limit its fish intake, and Africa would have to kick a lot of the starchy carbs. A typical day on following the planetary diet would look like the following: at least half of the plate should be made up of fruit and veggies, mainly coming from vegetables (300g) with fruit (200g) BUT starchy vegetables such as potatoes to be kept to 50g a day. The main source of protein should be from legumes (75g) followed by nuts (50g) down to 14g of red meat which is the equivalent of a single burger. The guidelines on carbohydrates advise that you should eat a similar amount to the quantity of fruit and veg. Like meat and starchy veg, dairy should be limited, with 1.5 eggs and 250g dairy (one glass of milk a week). That might be quite a shock for someone who enjoys eggs on toast for breakfast each day! On top of this you are entitled to 31g a day of sugar and 50g of oils. Here are the top reasons that this diet is a great solution for the our health and the health of the planet:
- Increasing fruit and vegetable intake will improve overall health
Scientists say this diet can save 11 million lives every year. That’s because this is the number of premature deaths which are caused annually by unhealthy diets. The World Health Organization recommends more than 400 grams of fruits and vegetables to be eaten per day to improve overall health and reduce the risk of certain noncommunicable diseases. Despite these recommendations in 2017 the WHO predicted around 3.9 million deaths worldwide were because of low fruit and vegetable consumption. An Australian study suggests a diet with inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption to be associated with all-cause mortality. Research indicates that a diet low in fruit and vegetables heightens an individual’s risk of non-communicable diseases such as coronary heart disease and diabetes making it a public health concern.
2. Increased wholegrain content will benefit our bodies
Recent research shows that 1 in 5 deaths globally are linked to poor diets. The highest risk consumption patterns are low in wholegrains, fruits, vegetables. Instead of only restricting food groups we need to concentrate on what foods should be added to achieve optimal health. The planetary diet is packed with wholegrains so will definitely work in our favour. Wholegrains are packed with fibre helps to keep our digestive system healthy and helps to prevent constipation. Dietary fibre can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) and type 2 diabetes.
3. Cutting down on red meat will reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Without action, today’s children will inherit a planet that has been severely degraded as our current diets are pushing the Earth beyond its planetary boundaries. Livestock currently accounts for up to 18 per cent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. Global consumption of red meats will need to be reduced by more than 50% if greenhouse gas emissions are to be significantly reduced.
4. Reduces water use
Agriculture and food production take up a whopping 70 per cent of the Earth’s freshwater sources. Food systems are main user of fresh water and cause eutrophication where excessive richness of nutrients in a body of water causes a dense growth of plant life. Agricultural farming is also responsible for dead zones in lakes and coastal areas, where there is a reduced level of oxygen in the water resulting in the death of aquatic life. In addition, agriculture remains a major source of water pollution; agricultural fertiliser run-off, pesticide use, and livestock effluents all contribute to the pollution of waterways. The planetary diet will reduce water use and pollution — win win!