This Diet Could Not Only Save 11.6M People a Year, it Can Also Benefit Our Planet, Experts Say

If all the people in the world would follow a specific diet, it would prevent 11.6 million people from dying and help preserve our natural environment.

Sounds fancy right? However, this is only possible if all people in the world will change their eating habits to follow the so-called ‘Planetary Health’ Diet.

The ‘Planetary Health’ Diet

Life-threatening diseases caused by unhealthy diets such as malnutrition, obesity, and cancers cause more death than unsafe sex, drug, alcohol, and tobacco use combined.

In a review commissioned by The Lancet, 37 experts from 16 countries joined hands to find a diet that would not just make humans healthy but could also help preserve more of our planet’s land and water, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The researchers concluded that the global consumption of red meat and sugar should be cut in half, meanwhile, the amount of consumption of vegetables, nuts, fruits, and legumes should be doubled. However, this does not mean that all people should eat the same food. The review allows flexibility for cultural traditions, agriculture, and dietary preferences like vegetarianism and veganism.

In the current situation, people from North America eat red meat more than six times more than the suggested amount. Meanwhile, people in South Asia only eat half of the suggested amount of red meat.

Environmental Impacts

The changes in eating habits not just only promote people’s health but also the ‘health’ of our planet. According to the review, with the ever-growing population, there is a large risk that the world will fail to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement.

In the near the planet will be “severely degraded and where much of the population will increasingly suffer from malnutrition and preventable disease.”

Food production has an inextricable link between human health and environmental sustainability. Simply put, if the current situation continues, in 2015, the world would not be sustainable enough to feed the estimated population of 10 billion people.

”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,” said Prof. Johan Rockström PhD of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research & Stockholm Resilience Centre.

The researchers admitted that problems in the world’s eating habits could not be easily fixed but are not impossible. They added that the result of the review is enough to warrant “radical” action. While there are more than 800 million people who do not have enough to eat, there are many more people who “consume an unhealthy diet that contributes to premature death and disease.”

Lancet Editor-in-chief, Richard Horton highlighted that if the people can eat in a way which is beneficial for our bodies as well as our planet. It will restore the natural balance of the planet’s resources. “The very nature that is disappearing holds the key to human and planetary survival.”