As the world’s population grows, so do the demands we put on our environment. And while we might not realise it, simply feeding ourselves can put a huge strain on the planet.
With the earth’s population expected to reach 10 billion people by 2050, authoritative medical journal The Lancet set out to tackle the problem and develop a diet that is healthy for us and the planet.
The Planetary diet is based on three years of research by 37 specialists from 16 countries.
So, what’s involved? The diet is best described as “flexitarian” - not free of animal products, but one that sits much closer to a vegetarian diet than most people currently eat. It’s mostly plant-based and contains an average of 2,500 calories a day that come mainly from fruit, veggies, wholegrains, legumes and nuts, with only small amounts of dairy and meat.
For most people, adopting this way of eating would involve cutting consumption of foods like red meat by at least half and doubling the amount of fruit, vegetables, legumes and nuts eaten.
While that may sound like a big change, the Planetary diet actually looks very similar to that eaten in the world’s Blue Zones - populations of the world’s healthiest and longest living people.
If you’re looking to make an impactful change to your diet that’ll better your body and the planet, try some of our easy tips based on the principles of the Planetary diet:
- Make friends with fruit and veg: When it’s time to plate up, make sure at least half is fruit and veggies. This the simplest thing you can do to shift your diet in the right direction. Aim for minimally processed fruits and vegetables (think whole fruits rather than juices and vegetables with the skin left on) and make sure you get a variety of fruit and veggies with every meal.
- Go large on legumes: Legumes are a great plant-based source of protein. Try beans or lentils with dinner or in a salad instead of meat or chicken, or add them to soups and stews. Try to change your thinking so legumes become your everyday protein source and meat becomes a sometimes food. Nuts are another great plant-based source of protein that can be included on a daily basis in meals and snacks.
- Be wary of added sugars: Not only are large amounts of added sugar bad for your health, added sugar is also a highly-processed ingredient making a big environmental impact with minimal nutritional value. For a better option, aim to satisfy your sweet tooth with in season fruits and limit your intake of discretionary foods like chips, chocolates and lollies.
So, start making the shift today - your health and the environment will thank you for it.
For more information on the planetary health diet, check out the summary report.