A new diet has been suggested which encourages us to reduce our intake of red meat and increase the amount of vegetables we eat. The idea is for us to get more healthy but also to decrease the negative impact our diet has on the planet.
It was designed by an international commission made up of 37 leading scientists from around the world. Their work was supported by a group called the EAT forum. Their brief was to design a diet that was healthy but also kind to the planet. It has been published in the Lancet. A stark statistic to consider is that by 2050 it is estimated that 10 billion people will be living on the Earth. If we continue to eat the diets that we do there will be severe repercussions to both our health and the planet itself.
The commission has launched the proposed diet across 35 sites around the world including New York, London, Melbourne, Oslo and Addis Ababa.
In summary, the diet suggests that globally we all need to reduce our red meat consumption and sugar by a half whilst at the same time doubling the amount of vegetables, fruits and nuts that we eat.Specifically for Europeans we are advised to eat 77% less red meat. If this is achieved the scientists have calculated that 11 million people will be saved from dying each year by eating more healthy food. The impact on the environment would also be hugely beneficial, this is because industrial agriculture is devastating the environment with huge numbers of methane producing cattle required to satisfy our love of eating red meat.
The new diet suggests that you take in around 2,500 calories each day. You would only be allowed one beefburger per week, about 14 grams of red meat and two servings of fish. The majority of the protein we require will be sourced from consuming pulses and nuts.Eggs need to be reduced to one or two per week. This is seen to be a really healthy diet but will clearly be a huge challenge to those living in North America who currently consume more than 6 times the amount of red meat than this diet suggests. In some ways this new diet harks back to more traditional diets and certainly is similar to some of the healthiest diets in the Mediterranean for example.Looking at a plate of food with this diet a half will be vegetables and third wholegrain cereals.
The idea of the diet is that food waste will be reduced, deforestation will not continue on the scale it is now and water will not be depleted. It is staggering to consider that agriculture makes up a quarter of all greenhouse gases, much of this comes from raising cattle and lamb. Reducing this type of agriculture by reducing the amount of red meat we eat will, say the report ,vastly help the planet.
The report does accept that if people worldwide embrace the new diet that would be the preferred option but other things may also have to happen. They cite that there may be a need for taxing red meat, banning the expansion of farmland and starting to legally protect our oceans. There is clearly a concern as to whether people globally will be willing to embrace this change, for the good of their own health and that of the planet.