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The Planetary Diet

The Planetary Diet

The Planetary Diet

A diet that’s a win-win

Earth Day, a day we acknowledge that small changes such as remembering to pack reusable bags, recycling or conserving water, can make a big difference in the future of our world.  An increasing concern is how to sustainably and nutritiously feed our ever growing population, estimated to be 9.8 million by 2050.   It may be hard to believe, but today’s food production accounts for 40% of global land use, and is estimated to account for up to 30% of greenhouse gas emissions and 70% of freshwater use (U.S agriculture accounted for 9% of emissions in 2016).  Earlier this year, a group of 37 experts and scientists from 16 countries unveiled The Planetary Diet – an eating plan that’s good for you and good for the earth – published in medical journal, The Lancet.

As you may suspect, this diet will require most people around the world to change what they eat. For example Japan would have to consume less fish, the US and UK less meat and so on.  It focuses on increasing plant foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts, while limiting animal proteins such as beef, lamb, chicken, pork, eggs, and fish.  In line with other healthy diets such as Mediterranean or DASH, they too recommend limits on added sugar and saturated fats.  Researchers consider the diet “flexitarian” and suggest that adopting it can help reduce the issues of undernutrition, over-nutrition, and reduce diet-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers worldwide.

But dietary changes aren’t their only recommendation.  The report explains that food sourced from animals such as meat from cattle, dairy and eggs should be limited due to higher environmental impact - think greenhouse gas emissions, more land use and loss of biodiversity.  The plan’s success also hinges on reducing food waste by 50% while increasing production of healthy foods on existing agricultural lands.  Global acceptance surely presents its challenges, however benefits of a plant-based diet are undeniable.  

Whether for the planet or for your health, moving towards a plant-based diet is an effective way to maintain weight and improve health.  May we suggest partying for the planet this Earth Day by serving up our Fiesta Pineapple Salad?  Implementing  small changes like this can yield big results – think about no longer having to take blood pressure medications, or finally fitting into that dress!  But if dietary changes just aren’t at the top of your to-do list, you can contribute to this goal by reducing food waste.  Something as easy as packaging today’s leftovers into to-go containers for tomorrow’s lunch can help the planet as well as your wallet.  

Published:  4.1.19

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