Want to lose weight and save the Earth? Try the Planetary Health Diet

Nearly 40 scientists from around the world devised the diet in an effort to improve human health and combat climate change

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      Move over Atkins and keto diets: an international commission of scientists is calling 2019 the year of the Planetary Health Diet.

      The diet—which prioritizes plants and limits the intake of highly processed foods and foods from animal sources—is the cornerstone of the “Great Food Transformation”, a movement that researchers and experts say is crucial to improve human health and avoid potentially disastrous damage to the planet.

      The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health gathered 37 scientists from 16 countries to define what makes up a healthy and sustainable diet--a diet that will reduce people’s risk of conditions like diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease while at the same time save the planet.

      Providing nearly 10 billion people with healthy and sustainable diets by the year 2050 is one of the most urgent challenges of our times, according to the commission. (EAT is a Stockholm-based non-profit that’s working toward a science-based food-system transformation; the Lancet is a collection of medical journals.)

      Food production is largest cause of global environmental change, the commission reports, responsible for up to 30 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions and 70 percent of freshwater use. Meanwhile, more than 820 million people around the world are undernourished and more than 2 billion adults are overweight or obese.

      The Planetary Health Diet is “flexitarian”: although it’s largely plant-based it can optionally include modest amounts of fish, meat, and dairy.

      It breaks down the optimal daily intake of whole grains, starchy vegetables, fruit, dairy, protein, fats, and sugars into grams, representing a daily total intake of 2,500 calories.

      The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health.

      The new Canada Food Guide’s recommendations are in line with the Planetary Health Diet, with its focus on plant-based foods.

      Compared with current diets, global adoption of the new recommendations by 2050 will require global consumption of foods such as red meat and sugar to decrease by more than 50 percent, while consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes must increase more than two-fold.

      The EAT-Lancet Commission is currently launching the Planetary Health Diet in various cities around the world, including Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. 

      SFU is livestreaming a forum tonight (March 5) called Psychology of Change: Achieving a Transformation of the Global Food System.

      Among the speakers are Brent Loken, director of science translation at EAT; Courtney Howard of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment; Susan Clayton, a professor of psychology and environmental studies in Wooster, Ohio; Vancouver chef Ned Bell, who founded Chefs for Oceans; and others.

      It’s at 5 p.m. See www.sfu.ca for the live broadcast.