More Plant-Based Diet Could Feed World And Save Planet, Say Scientists

North Americans must slash their red meat intake by 84% and Europeans by 77% with sharp increases in the consumption of nuts and seeds to meet the dietary guidelines
Woman eating salad
Major changes are needed to save the planet and human health (Photo: Adobe. Do not use without permission)

Scientists have developed a diet they say could feed the world and save the planet - and it relies on slashing meat intake drastically.

Described as the first 'science-based' eating plan, the Planetary Health Diet was created over two years by 37 scientists specializing in climate change, nutrition, and farming, brought together by the Lancet medical journal in collaboration with NGO the Eat Forum.

The dietary guidelines address how animal farming is driving climate change, and causing water pollution and environmental damage. They also address the damage unhealthy diets are doing to human health, with 2 billion overweight or obese people worldwide, 2 billion malnourished, and 800 million going hungry.

The scientists behind the plan say if everyone adopted the diet, it could feed 10 billion - the expected global population by 2050.

Planetary Health Diet

In global terms, the diet requires people to slash red meat and sugar intake in half, and double consumption of vegetables, fruit, pulses, and nuts.

Globally, the diet - which allows around 2,500 calories per day - requires red meat and sugar consumption to be cut by half, while vegetables, fruit, pulses, and nuts must double.

When the changes are considered in specific places, they can be more dramatic. For example, those in North America must slash their red meat intake by 84 percent, and consume six times as many beans and lentils. In Europe, a 77 percent reduction in red meat is required, with a massive 15 time more nuts and seeds needed.

PBN's Robbie Lockie discusses the diet on BBC Radio

'Getting it wrong'

"We are currently getting this seriously wrong," Professor Tim Lang, one of the authors from City, University of London, said about diet. "We need a significant overhaul, changing the global food system on a scale not seen before in ways appropriate to each country's circumstances."

Lancet editors Richard Horton and Tamara Lucas said it's crucial that these changes are implemented. "Civilization is in crisis. 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."

Planetary Health Diet daily intake

Vegetables -(300g) and fruit (200g)
Bread/rice/ 232g
Starchy vegetables 50g
Nuts - 50g
Beans, chickpeas, lentils and other legumes - 75g
Chicken 29g
Fish - 28g
Red meat 14g
Eggs - 13g (which is equivalent to less than 1.5 a week)
Dairy - 250g
Sugar 31g
Oils - 50g

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are prepared in the author's capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Plant Based News itself. 

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PBN Contributor:

Maria is the Editor of Plant Based News. A former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers. She was previously the editor of Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle. You can follow her on Twitter @MariaChiorando and Instagram @mariachiorando.

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