Your body and your environment are linked in a way which is too obvious, and yet it has got the attention it deserves only in recent years.
Now experts as well as governments agree that the biggest deciding factor for the future of environment is the food we eat. A positive shift in eating patterns will also change agricultural production and practices, currently a major threat to environment.
This shift is from animal food to plant-based food.
Such dietary change could reduce annual agricultural production emissions of high-income nations’ diets by 61% while sequestering carbon dioxide equal to approximately 14 years of current global agricultural emissions until natural vegetation matures.
This is what a recent research published in Nature Food has found.
Researchers estimated this double effect — reduction in emissions and sequestering of CO2 — by simulating the adoption of the EAT–Lancet planetary health diet by 54 high-income nations representing 68% of global gross domestic product and 17% of population.
EAT–Lancet planetary health diet is recommended by the ‘EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health’ which brought together 37 world-leading scientists from across the globe to answer this question: Can we feed a future population of 10 billion people a healthy diet within planetary boundaries?
The EAT-Lancet report is the first full scientific review of what constitutes a healthy diet from a sustainable food system, and which actions can support and speed up food system transformation.
The planetary health plate
According to this report, a planetary health plate should consist by volume of approximately half a plate of vegetables and fruits; the other half should consist of primarily whole grains, plant protein sources, unsaturated plant oils, and (optionally) modest amounts of animal sources of protein.
So does this report recommends everyone everywhere eat the same food? A very bland proposition!
No, the report clarifies that it recommends only the dietary intake, allowing local variations.
“Although the planetary health diet, which is based on health considerations, is consistent with many traditional eating patterns, it does not imply that the global population should eat exactly the same food, nor does it prescribe an exact diet. Instead, the planetary health diet outlines empirical food groups and ranges of food intakes, which combined in a diet, would optimize human health. Local interpretation and adaptation of the universally-applicable planetary health diet is necessary and should reflect the culture, geography and demography of the population and individuals,” says the report.
The planetary health plate is a flexitarian diet, which is largely plant-based but can optionally include modest amounts of fish, meat and dairy foods.
Prof. Walter Willett of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health says in this report that global consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes would have to double, and consumption of foods such as red meat and sugar would have to be reduced by more than 50%.
A diet rich in plant-based foods and with fewer animal source foods confers both improved health and environmental benefits, he says.
Food is the single strongest lever to optimize human health and environmental sustainability on earth, says the report. Another expert warns in this report that unless global food production makes positive shifts we would be unable to save our environment.
“Global food production threatens climate stability and ecosystem resilience. It constitutes the single-largest driver of environmental degradation and transgression of planetary boundaries. Taken together the outcome is dire. A radical transformation of the global food system is urgently needed. Without action, the world risks failing to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement,” says Prof. Johan Rockström of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research & Stockholm Resilience Centre.
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