In order to safeguard our health and the planet's future, our eating patterns need to change drastically. New scientific advice makes a case for the limitation of using animal products once more.
A ‘win-win’ diet
If we are to feed the ten billion people who will populate the Earth by 2050 in a healthy and sustainable manner, we will need a major food transformation. This is the claim of a new report from the EAT-Lancet Commission, a worldwide scientific platform on nutrition, led by Norwegian think tank EAT and scientific journal The Lancet.
The report claims that we should reduce the average amount of red meat and sugar consumed by Western people today by half. We should also double the amount of vegetables, fruit, seeds and nuts we consume. That would avoid 11 million annual deaths that result from unhealthy eating habits. Simultaneously, such a diet would save the planet from global warming, deforestation and the depletion of resources. In short: a win-win scenario for people and planet. The commission has drafted up a 'planetary health diet' that meets these demands.
Less meat, more vegetables
We do not all need to become vegan, but a hamburger should only make it to the dinner table once a week, a large steak only once a month. A weekly bit of chicken, some fish and an egg are fine. Dairy should be limited to 250g per day. Vegetables and fruit should make up at least half of everyone's plate. The researchers also advise us to strongly increase our consumption of nuts and legumes such as chickpeas, lentils and beans.
The advice sounds radical, but it really only is to consumers in rich Western countries. Elsewhere, most people eat far less meat and other animal products. The report mostly confirms the core of what we already recognise as healthy eating patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet or the Okinawa diet. Other counsels, such as the 'healthy food triangle' in Flanders and the 'disc of five' in the Netherlands, also encourage people to consume fewer animal products, more vegetable products and as little heavily processed foods as possible.