I’m creating a new dietary tag for food on my blog: the planetary health diet.
If you follow the world of food security, health, nutrition, and sustainability, you might have heard about the planetary health diet. This diet was outlined in a Lancet article in January 2019, the result of a collaboration of 37 scientists from around the world.
The planetary health diet is good for human health AND environmental sustainability. We badly need this because:
- Today, 820 million people in the world still suffer from acute or chronic hunger and another 2 billion adults are overweight or obese.
- The human population is expected to grow to 10 billion by 2050.
- “Food production is the largest cause of global environmental change – responsible for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions and 70% of freshwater use.”
So the question becomes, how will we feed a growing population in a healthy way without ruining the planet?
Lucky for us, the diet that science shows is best for humans is also best for the environment. The planetary health diet consists of:
- Increased consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts
- Preference for unsaturated oils (ex: olive, soybean, rapeseed, sunflower, peanut oil)
- Low to moderate amounts of seafood, poultry, dairy
- Very little or no red meat, processed meat, added sugar, refined grains, or starchy vegetables (e.g., potatoes, cassava)
The Planetary Health Diet: What You Should Eat Daily (grams)
This diet is asking for a MAJOR SHIFT in how we eat, and it requires policy action as much as behavior change. There’s a lot of questions around the feasibility of such a proposal – and the proposal isn’t only for the US, but for all countries. I’m going to assume that most of my readers have control and options over what they eat that will allow them to opt in to this diet. And to help, I’m going tag recipes that meet these requirements so you can begin introducing food into your life that is good for you and the planet! You can see the list of current recipes that meet the requirements (or can be easily adapted) here.
If you want to know more about the planetary health diet, my favorite resources are below:
- Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. The article that started it all
- This Diet Is Better For the Planet. But Is It Better For You, Too? Great summary of the report.
- A bit of meat, a lot of veg – the flexitarian diet to feed 10bn. I like this one because it shows in visual form what “a little bit of meat” really means.
- How To Get Meat Eaters To Eat More Plant-Based Foods? Make Their Mouths Water. Explores how to incentivize consumers to eat more healthy meals. The answer is, unsurprisingly, to highlight the yum aspects of the food over the health aspects.