Monday, April 08, 2019
by Jennifer Roberts, MS, RD, and Julia Jordan, Morrison Healthcare Food Services
BJC | “Can we feed a future population of 10 billion people a healthy diet within planetary boundaries?”
That’s the primary question answered by the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health in its recent report.
The EAT-Lancet Commission brought together more than 30 leading scientists from across the globe to reach a scientific consensus to define a healthy and sustainable diet. The group recently released its first report that outlines what a healthy diet from a sustainable food system looks like. It’s called the Planetary Health Diet. And it might look familiar.
What is the Planetary Health Diet?
The Planetary Health Diet is a flexitarian diet that’s largely plant-based with the option for modest amounts of animal foods. If you were to look at a plate model, like the one in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans on health.gov, you’d see half of the plate filled with fruits and vegetables. The remainder would have whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish, plant oils and limited amounts of dairy foods, animal proteins and added sugars.
Why a Planetary Health Diet?
According to the EAT-Lancet report, “Food is the single strongest lever to optimize human health and environmental sustainability on Earth.” Unfortunately, our current eating style, paired with the trends in our global population, don’t appear to be sustainable. Changes are needed in the way we produce and consume food to ensure healthy diets and sustainable food systems are available for the estimated global population of 10 billion people by 2050.
How do I get started?
While it’s called a diet, it’s actually more of a framework. Two people could follow the Planetary Health Diet and eat very differently. The goal is to follow strategies that support the health of people and the planet while incorporating personal, regional or cultural preferences.
The first step for most people is to add more fruits and vegetables to make up half of the diet. The types you choose should reflect your preferences and what’s available locally. Substituting some plant-based proteins like legumes, nuts or seeds for traditional animal proteins is another good step.
While vegetarian and vegan diets fit into the Planetary Health framework, it’s not necessary to choose this way of eating. Simply increasing your plant-based foods and reducing animal foods can make a positive impact on your health and the health of the planet.
Read more about the EAT-Lancet Commission at eatforum.org.
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