If you have been looking for the ideal diet for your own personal health that also benefits the planet, a scientific research team from the University of London may have the perfect answer — the “Planetary Health” diet. According to the London scientists, the ideal diet includes doubling your consumption of plant-based foods like nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes, while cutting your meat and sugar intake in half.
The researchers said that if everyone followed this diet, it could prevent more than 11 million premature deaths each year, reduce greenhouse gases and preserve land, water and biodiversity.
“The food we eat and how we produce it determines the health of people and the planet, and we are currently getting this seriously wrong,” said Tim Lang, a professor at the University of London who co-led the research.
Lang added that “we need a significant overhaul” of the global food system if we want to be able to feed our growing population, which could hit 10 billion by 2050, with a healthy and sustainable diet. This means completely transforming eating habits, but it will also require better food production and a reduction of food waste.
After a three-year project commissioned by The Lancet health journal, the researchers are proposing a planetary diet that is a combination of different food groups. They recommend a balance of macronutrients and a limit of 2,500 calories each day.
In general, they recommend doubling plant-based food intake and cutting meat and sugar in half. But for some regions, it could mean even more dramatic change. For example, North Americans eat 6.5 times more than the recommended amount of red meat in the planetary diet, and people in South Asia eat about half the recommended amount. Residents of sub-Saharan Africa eat 7.5 times the suggested amount of starchy vegetables.
The researchers admitted that hoping everyone switches to a planetary health diet is ambitious. However, Walter Willett of Harvard University said, “If we can’t quite make it, it’s better to try and get as close as we can.”
Image via Martina Aubrechtová