Wednesday , June 23 2021

A little meat, very veg – the flexi diet to feed the planet

It has developed a diet that promises to save lives, feed 10 billion people and all without causing catastrophic damage to the planet.

Scientists are trying to figure out how we are going to feed billions more people in the coming decades.

His answer – "the planetary health diet" – does not completely banish meat and dairy products.

But it is recommended that we consume most of our protein from nuts and vegetables (like beans and lentils).

Your diet needs a huge change in what we stack up in our dishes and become the food we barely eat.

What changes do I have to make?

If you eat meat every day, then this is the first biggie. For red meat, you're looking for a hamburger a week or a big steak a month and that's your destination.

You can still have a couple of servings of fish and the same chicken per week, but the plants are where the rest of your protein will need to come from. Researchers are recommending nuts and a good dose of vegetables every day.

There is also a big push on all the fruits and vegetables, which should make up half of every plate of food we eat.

Although there is a cull in "starchy vegetables" such as humble potatoes or cassava, which is widely consumed in Africa.

So what is the diet in detail?

If you served all this is what you would be allowed to each day:


  1. Walnuts – 50g per day
  2. Beans, chickpeas, lentils and other legumes – 75g per day
  3. Fish – 28g per day
  4. eggs – 13g per day (one and a few per week)
  5. Beef – 14g per day of red meat and 29g per day of chicken
  6. Carbohydrates – whole grains such as bread and rice, 232 g per day and 50 g per day of starch-rich vegetables
  7. Dairy Products – 250g – the equivalent of a glass of milk
  8. Vegetables – (300g) and fruits (200g)

The diet has room for 31g of sugar and about 50g of the value of olive oil such as olive oil.

Will it be horrible?

Professor Walter Willet, one of the researchers at Harvard, said he did not and that after a childhood on a farm eating three servings of red meat a day, he was practically in line with the planetary health diet.

"There's a huge variety there," he said. "You can pick up these foods and put them together in a thousand different ways. We're not talking about a deprivation diet here, it's a healthy eating that is flexible and enjoyable."


Image caption: These are some food dishes that meet the planetary health diet rules this for real, or just a fantasy?

This plan requires changes in diets in virtually every corner of the world.

Europe and North America need to massively reduce red meat, East Asia needs to reduce fish consumption, Africa use starch-rich vegetables.

"Humanity has never attempted to change the food system on this scale and at this speed," said Line Gordon, director of the Stockholm Resilience Center at Stockholm University.

"Whether it's a fantasy or not, a fantasy does not have to be bad … it's time to dream about a good world," she says.

Taxes on red meat are one of many options that researchers say is necessary to persuade us to change our diets.

Who invented this?

A group of 37 scientists from around the world met as part of the EAT-Lancet commission.

They are a mix of agriculture experts for climate change for nutrition. It took them two years to present their findings, which were published in the Lancet.

Why do we need a diet for 10 billion people?

The world population reached seven billion in 2011 and is now around 7.7 billion. This number is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050 and keep rising.

Will this save lives?

Researchers say the diet will prevent about 11 million people from dying every year.

That number is largely due to the cut of diseases related to unhealthy diets, such as heart attacks, strokes and some cancers. These are now the biggest killers in developed countries.

So will this diet save the planet?

The researchers' goal was to feed more people while:

  • Minimize greenhouse gas emissions
  • preventing any species from becoming extinct
  • without expansion of agricultural land, and
  • preserving water

However, just changing the diets is far enough.

To make the numbers count, it also requires a reduction of half of the food waste and an increase in the amount of food produced on the present farmland.

Why is not meat being banned?

"If we were just minimizing greenhouse gases, we would say they are all vegans," Professor Willet said.

However, it was unclear whether a vegan diet was the healthiest option, he said.

So what happens now?

The EAT-Lancet Commission will bring its findings to governments around the world and bodies such as WHO to see if this can begin to change the way we eat.

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