A diet has been developed that promises to save lives, feed 10 billion people and all without causing catastrophic damage to the planet.
Scientists have been trying to figure out how we are going to feed billions more people in the decades to come.
Their answer – “the planetary health diet” – does not completely banish meat and dairy.
But it requires a ginormous shift in what we pile onto our plates and turning to foods that we barely eat.
What changes am I going to have to make?
If you eat meat every day then this is the first biggie. For red meat you’re looking at a burger a week or a large steak a month and that’s your lot.
You can still have a couple of portions of fish and the same of chicken a week, but plants are where the rest of your protein will need to come from.
The researchers are recommending nuts and a good helping of legumes (that’s beans, chickpeas and lentils) every day instead.
There’s also a major push on all fruit and veg, which should be make up half of every plate of food we eat.
Although there’s a cull on “starchy vegetables” such as the humble potato or cassava which is widely eaten in Africa.
So what is the diet in detail?
If you served it all up this is what you are allowed each day:
- Nuts – 50g a day
- Beans, chickpeas, lentils and other legumes – 75g a day
- Fish – 28g a day
- Eggs – 13g a day (so one and a bit a week)
- Meat – 14g a day of red meat and 29g a day of chicken
- Carbs – whole grains like bread and rice 232g a day and 50g a day of starchy vegetables
- Dairy – 250g – the equivalent of one glass of milk
- Vegetables (300g) and fruit (200g)
The diet has room for 31g of sugar and about 50g worth of oils like olive oil.
Will it taste awful?
Prof Walter Willet, one of the researchers who is based at Harvard, said no and that after a childhood on a farm eating three portions of red meat a day he was now pretty much in line with the planetary health diet.
He said: “There’s tremendous variety there.
“You can take those foods and put them together in thousands of different ways. We’re not talking about a deprivation diet here, it is healthy eating that is flexible and enjoyable.”