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Planetary Health Diet will make humanity and the environment healthier

According to the Planetary Health Diet report, nutritional guidelines published last month by EAT, a Stockholm-based nonprofit seeking to improve the food system in the medical journal Lancet.

According to their panel of nutrition, agriculture and environmental experts, a “Great Food Transformation” is required by 2050 in order to significantly reduce environmental and disasters and health problems.

They say that the most red meat people should eat is the equivalent of a hamburger a week, you should consume fewer than four eggs each week and limit yourself to one serving of dairy or less a day. They say that a plant-based diet is ideal, with plenty of whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables. The report also says to limit consumption of added sugars, refined grains such as white rice and starches like potatoes and cassava.

“Relative to average global consumption patterns, everyone should eat half as much red meat and sugar, and twice as many nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes,” the report says. “Per person, this means about less than half an ounce of red meat per day, or one serving of red meat (one quarter-pound hamburger) per week. The targets are similarly stringent for other animal products, recommending less than one ounce of white meat (such as chicken), one ounce of fish, one-quarter of an egg, and 9 ounces of milk per day. [...] Plant-based foods cause fewer adverse environmental effects than animal products by every metric. We estimated that changes in food production practices could reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 by 10 percent, whereas increased consumption of plant-based diets could reduce emissions by 80 percent [...] So we could help limit the climate and pollution mess by scaling back meat and dairy and scaling up grains, legumes, and nuts.”

The report says that excessive consumption of red meat causes health problems, plus producing red meat takes up land and releases methane, a greenhouse gas.A report by the United Nations said that livestock is responsible for about 15 percent of the world's climate-warming gas emissions.

The full title of the report is “Food in the Anthropocene: The EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems.” You can read it online at thelancet.com/commissions/EAT.

“Civilisation is in crisis,” said Richard Horton and Tamara Lucas, editors of the Lancet, in an editorial. “We can no longer feed our population a healthy diet while balancing planetary resources. If we can eat in a way that works for our planet as well as our bodies, the natural balance will be restored."

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