It’s official. The EAT-Lancet Report on healthy planet-friendly eating has confirmed that food is the single strongest way to maximize good health for both people and the planet. Key findings from the report were recently presented at the three-day Auckland Climate Symposium, highlighting that what we eat, how we produce it, and the amount we waste is threatening our (and the earth’s) future. The good news is, this report has come up with a sure-fire way that we can all eat to make a difference.
It’s no secret that what we eat has an impact on our health. There are a growing list of documentaries that capture the rising levels of obesity due to poor diet and food choices, that impact our communities. It's a global challenge, and with more and more people on the planet, projected to be 10 billion by 2050, how can we make sure healthy food is available for everybody?
There is a solution
Research from the report tells us there are two steps to eating our way towards reducing climate change. The first is moving towards more sustainable farming practices, and the second is choosing the right food.
The first step is growing the best foods for our health, like vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes, and a smaller amount of livestock. While, at the same time, improving biodiversity and carbon storage in the soil, keeping pollutants away from water, and being efficient in the way we use resources, such as water, so that we don’t overuse them.
The second step is eating a ‘planetary health diet’ that has a lower reliance on meat and dairy products, which are high emitters of carbon emissions. The great news is that many New Zealanders are already eating like this, which is a great step towards living a low carbon lifestyle. The recent Better Futures Colmar Brunton research found that New Zealanders have an increasing commitment to sustainable lifestyles, and that there is a growing trend in Aotearoa towards eating more plant-based meals or having a flexitarian diet - one in ten kiwis are mostly meat free!
So, what is the ‘planetary health diet’?
The EAT-Lancet report maps out what a planet changing plate looks like.
The key is filling up half your plate with lots of yummy fruits, vegetables and nuts. The other half consists primarily of whole grains, plant proteins (beans, peas, lentils), unsaturated plant oils, modest amounts of meat and dairy, and some added sugars and starchy vegetables.
It’s a flexible diet and allows for adaptation to dietary needs, personal preferences and cultural traditions. Vegetarian and vegan diets are two healthy options within the planetary health diet but are personal choices.
Where do I start?
It’s time to vote with your fork. Join more and more kiwis who are increasingly committed to living sustainably by eating more plant-based meals and eating less meat. Your next opportunity is breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Make a pledge to eat more plant-based meals, helping you to live lightly. And share this with your friends and family.
Need a bit of a nudge? Try taking some inspiration from what your meals could look like in the pictures above and happy munching!