Lancet offers a way to feed the world and save the planet

A bold title, and perhaps a little more will be needed than the worlds population to simply be following EAT – Lancet’s Commission dietary recommendations. But hey, it’s a start, and it sounds like a pretty damned good start to me. It’s a place I can start!

The purpose of the EAT -Lancet Commision’s report was to create dietary paradigms that aims to:

  • Feed a worlds population of 10 billion people by 2050
  • to greatly reduce the worldwide number of deaths caused by poor diets
  • to be environmentally sustainable so as to prevent the collapse of the planet

I’m not a diet faddist, nor am I a greenie. I do a little bit now and again for the planet, and have a bit of a conscience because I don’t do more. Truth be told I’ve never really found a starting point that didn’t seem to put me in danger of becoming a zealot, and who wants to become one of them! Not me that’s for sure. But I do want to do a bit more….

You may remember a few weeks ago I posted a blog with my thoughts on dietary pyramids.

I’ve never been a dieter, nor someone who follows any dietary guideline with any real dedication. If you read that post you will have realised that I take most dietary recommendations with a pinch of salt – why? Simply because history tells us that the findings of any diet that eliminates an entire food group will be overturned eventually. Those who followed the diet recommendations to the letter will usually have done themselves a certain amount of damage. I usually eat whatever I feel like eating, sometimes with a clear conscience, and sometimes feeling as guilty as hell for the damage I’m doing to both myself, and the planet.

When I wrote that post I did take a bit of notice of the Mediterranean dietary pyramid. I had never been aware that grains and beans were prominent with the Mediterranean people, in fact, more prominent than fish. That surprised me.

My interest had been tweaked. I decided to look a bit closer. One google search led to another, and eventually led me to the planet’s blue zones, and then led me to the Planetary diet. If the Blue Zones are old news to you, then please forgive me for having had my head buried in the sand. If you’re not aware of the blue zones, they are the areas where the general population is known for their outstanding longevity. I won’t list them, as it’s easy to look them up. The blue zones are, as you can imagine, often a hot topic for dietary researchers. I gather the EAT – Lancet Commission looked closely at the blue zones when developing their Planetary diet. So what is this Planetary diet? Start by taking a look at this double food pyramid.

The pyramid doesn’t seem to omit any food group completely, thank goodness for me, as if it had I wouldn’t have given it a second look. At the bottom of the pyramid is fresh fruits and veges, next comes grains, beans and lentils. Yet it’s not a high carb diet! Oils, dairy, fish, eggs, red meat, and even cookies and cakes figure in the pyramid. Nothing is forbidden, but some things are definitely recommended in smaller amounts. Then if you take a look at the upside down pyramid, you’ll notice the impact each food group has on the planet. It’s clear that the highly recommended foods have the least impact on our planet, and the foods that Lancet advises us to eat in moderation have the biggest adverse impact on our planet.

Being a lover of food, all food, I can happily eat a well prepared Buddha bowl full of fresh vegetables and vegetable protein, as much as I can enjoy a perfectly cooked steak, or a crisp chocolate eclair filled with real fresh cream and topped with crisp dark chocolate. I love it all. My conscience often pricks though when I slip into lazy dietary habits. For me that means eating un-imaginative animal protein, carb and veg meals night after night, day after day. When I slip into these lazy meals my diet becomes basically, bread or a roll with meat, chicken, fish, egg or cheese with salad for lunch, and meat, or chicken with some sort of carb and veges on the side for dinner. So, why does my conscience prick – simply because in some part of my sub-conscious mind I know it’s not healthy for me, or for the planet to be eating 14 animal based meals a week. I’ve never done anything about it, because in some other part of my sub-conscious mind I’ve felt that a purely vegan diet isn’t what it’s about either, and Vegetarian Monday just didn’t seem to cut it. Plus I’m to much of a hedonist to want to commit to a life without a perfectly cooked steak now and again, or a deliciously crisp, melt in the mouth chocolate eclair when one presents itself.

Now thanks to Lancet, it seems I can have it all, and it’ll not only help to save the planet, but it’ll do me a lot of good to. The past few weeks Paul and I have been trying to commit to eating a lot more vegetable protein, and considerably less animal sourced protein. We’re by no means following the Planetary diet guidelines with any zealous fervour, but we are eating better than we were, and with a clear conscience. Currently most of vegetable protein is coming out of cans – black beans, lentils, chick peas etc. I’m sure cooking these from scratch is better for the planet than all those canned products, but I’m finding it’s a good place to start. Monday to Friday lunch time, most lunches and dinners consist of fresh vegetables, beans or pulses, or/and nuts, healthy fats and a little bit of canned fish, grated cheese or an egg sometimes thrown in. From Friday night to Sunday dinner we add some animal flesh, making sure some iron rich beef is included. Cakes and cookies – well I’m not ready to say no to them any time soon, so if they’re on offer, count me in.

Here’s another look at a Mediterranean. Diet – whoops at the bottom of this one physical activity figures strongly. Maybe I’ll get to that one day soon! The rest of the diet is very similar the the Planetary diet recommendations. If you haven’t looked at the Planetary diet, it’s worth taking a look. You’ll make me very happy if I’ve inspired you in some way, so please let me know if I have.

One thought on “Lancet offers a way to feed the world and save the planet

  1. EXCELLENT, Chris ! – I’ve been thinking about another eating post all day, and yours encourages me.
    First thing to do – look up The Lancet !!
    Thank-you for a very meaningful post. 🙂


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