The EAT-Lancet Commission looks at the link between diet, human health, and environmental sustainability.
These professionals from around the world published a 2019 report about final consumption (healthy diets) and production (sustainability).
Per the report, more than 820 million people in the world still don’t have enough food, those eating lots of food are increasing their risk of morbidity and mortality, and global food production is a primary reason for climate change and environmental decline. The commission’s goal is that by 2050, nearly 10 billion people will follow planetary health diets, which have two goals:
- Healthy Diets: Building planetary health with optimal caloric intakes will require substantial dietary shifts, adding plant-based foods and limiting meat, fish, and dairy. Consumers will have to eat twice as many fruits, vegetables, and legumes, with less than half the amounts of added sugars and red meats. The commission predicted that these types of changes would prevent about 11 million deaths annually and lead to other health benefits.
- Sustainable Food Production: The commission proposed boundaries for global food production to reduce the risk of irreversible damage to the planet. These include parameters for emissions, cropland use, and water use.
The report advises taking immediate action to protect the planet and improve global health. The five recommended strategies are:
- Increasing healthy diets around the world.
- Focusing on high quality more than high quantity in agriculture and aquaculture.
- Boosting sustainability efforts to raise the quality and efficiency of food production.
- Relying on existing farmland and bodies of water, leaving natural ecosystems undisturbed.
- Cutting food loss and waste in half to meet United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Learn more at eatforum.org/eat-lancet-commission.
The EAT-Lancet planetary health diet got a lot of attention, but not all organizations support the diet. Numerous industry associations, including the World Health Organization, opposed it and expressed concerns about the:
- Detrimental effect of reducing meat consumption on people who rely on livestock production as a way of life and a means of economic development.
- Use of a global standardized diet that doesn’t account for differences caused by age, sex, general health, or basal metabolism.
- Change that would be required to many traditional cultural diets.
- Difficulty for people unable to afford or even access the recommended foods.
- Need for substantial investment in education.
Remember to use the balanced approach to nutritional information to help you make your choice about the planetary health diet!