If there were a diet that was optimal for the health of not only the planet but for the health of humankind, what would it look like? There has been a rise of diet movements in environmentalism that aim to protect the health of the planet.
Promoting a vegetable-packed diet and reducing meat consumption is critical for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Vegetarianism and veganism are two popular diet options, but what if there was something more flexible that still fights against climate change?
The Environmental Impact of The Food Industry
Production of the foods we eat requires water and energy. The food industry is responsible for 26% of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet. The human diet is even causing wildlife to suffer. An estimated 94% of mammals on the planet, excluding humans, are livestock. This means livestock outnumbers wild species on a scale of 15 to 1.
When it comes to meat consumption, the public often faces confusion about whether to sustainably source their meat or to reduce their meat intake. It’s found that eating less meat is better for our carbon footprints, even if your meat is locally sourced. Transport typically accounts for less than 1% of beef’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, meaning that even locally bought beef isn’t the solution it was previously believed to be.
Although pork and poultry create less emissions than beef, all meat and animal products leave a larger footprint than plant-based options.
What Is The Planetary Diet?
The planetary diet, also known as the Planetary Health Diet (Ph.D.), is a flexible meal plan that promotes the consumption of more plant-based options than animal products. The diet consists of filling one half of your plate with fruits and vegetables while using the other half for whole grains (brown rice, quinoa), vegetable oils, plant-based proteins (lentils, beans), modest amounts of meat/animal products, and starchy vegetables (potatoes).
This diet encourages a lesser meat intake while still providing the adaptability necessary for dietary restrictions and preferences. The idea was formed by the EAT-Lancet Commission, which consisted of thirty-seven scientists from 16 different countries. The planetary diet is evidence-based and centered around research in order to create a nutritious yet sustainable diet. The idea supports regenerative farming practices while still encouraging food diversity.
According to recent research, the United States is responsible for the largest amount of meat consumption in the world. If everyone in the U.S. ate a quarter less meat, it would conserve around 82 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year. Utilizing the planetary diet promotes the consumption of plant-based proteins, which could lower the total amount of meat intake globally. The planetary health diet has also been proven to support human heart health, offer protection against cancer, lower inflammation, support brain health, and lower the overall risk of death.
How Could The Planetary Diet Combat Climate Change?
Roughly 80% of people consider climate change to be a major threat to their country. This is an impressive number, but it still leaves 20% of the global population unaware or uneducated about the condition of our planet. Even with the amount of easily accessible data, most people in the United States consume meat with all three meals. The planetary health diet offers a great deal of promise, but it would require the human population to get on board.
The planetary diet can aid the effort to reverse climate change by urging the consumption of more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and plant-based proteins. Beans, lentils, nuts, and other sources of plant-based protein are responsible for the least amount of emissions when compared across protein sources, such as meat and eggs. Although there is no way to avoid food’s impacts on the environment, the planetary health diet is a supportive tool to assist in being more intentional towards the environment with our diets.
The food industry is responsible for at least 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The Planetary Health Diet (Ph.D.) aims to promote more vegetable consumption and more intentional use of meat products.
The Planetary Health Diet was formed by the EAT-Lancet Commission.
Eating less meat is one of the best ways to decrease the threat of climate change.