Follow this diet and save the earth, experts say

08:21 25/03/2019

Dietetic Association of South Africa (ADSA)

We have all met our fair share of diets, but for the first time, medical experts suggest that all humans follow the same regime – not to preserve our waistlines, but for the survival of the planet.

According to a press release, the EAT-Lancet Commission brought together more than 30 world-renowned experts to determine whether it was possible to give a future population of 10 billion people a healthy diet, within planetary boundaries sustainable.

The healthy food plan that they have developed subsequently and that they are now promoting to governments and other agencies around the world is closely aligned with the guidelines of the world. 39 World Health Organization (WHO) for a healthy diet and the current tendency to favor plant-based rather than food-rich foods. in meat products.

Speaker at North-West University and spokesperson for ADSA (South African Dietetic Association), Dr. Mariaan Wicks describes the planet's healthy diet as "rich in food-based foods." plants, with less food of animal origin and a limited amount of added sugars ".

The planetary sanitary plate comprises about half a plate of non-starchy fruits and vegetables, preferably of local production, fresh and seasonal fruits. The other half of the plate should be mainly composed of whole grains, vegetable protein sources such as legumes and nuts, with only small amounts of unsaturated vegetable oils and protein sources. animal origin.

Why is the planetary health diet good for the Earth?

The world's food systems are grappling with the problem of the need to produce more food for a growing population on a planet where sustainable boundaries have already been surpassed. EAT-Lancet researchers have examined how to feed more people while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, preventing the disappearance of more species, curbing the expansion of farmland and preserving l & # 39; water. Their recommendation to reduce our consumption of animal protein is based on the fact that its production has the greatest negative impact on the environment.

Not big on meat, but eat a lot of packaged treats? Processed foods have the same profound effects on the planet.

According to Dr. Wicks, our desire to create a more sustainable world for future generations makes our regime change inevitable. "The composition of our diets determines the impact of food on the environment, and it is in the food system that the areas of our health and environmental health meet." She said.

"The Earth is our home and it's the only one we have. The responsibility for caring for the planet lies with each of us and, therefore, dietary adaptations are essential. "

How can we change the planetary health regime?

Following the global diet will require different changes across peoples and countries. In South Africa, the most significant impact would be reduced consumption of animal protein, added sugars and starchy vegetables.

On a global scale, the food plan aims to halve global red meat consumption. To achieve this goal, major red meat consumers, such as the United States, need to reduce their consumption by 80%, which is equivalent to eating a hamburger. a week, or a big steak once a month.

Dr. Wicks advised South Africans to take small steps to eat more sustainably rather than make radical changes. The Global Diet for Health offers an incredible variety of plant-based foods, and there are excellent sources of vegetable protein that meet all of our amino acid needs. Getting used to eating less meat, eggs and dairy does not mean we will not eat delicious meals. "Every little change can make a big difference," says Dr. Wicks. "Start with small, easy changes, and then, as you become more comfortable and familiar, add new changes."

Dr. Wicks points out that eating in a more sustainable way is not just about food choices but also about packaging and reducing food waste. Examples of simple changes that we South Africans can make to eat in a more sustainable way include:

  • Rethink the amount of meat you eat in your regular diet. Small changes, such as reducing the size of your portion and the number of times you consume meat, especially red meat, during a day or a given week, can greatly help reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Try to include at least one day without meat in your week, for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. Experiment with beans, lentils and chickpeas instead of meat. Fantastic recipes are available online, easy and affordable. My favorite dishes are tomato-based whole wheat pasta and chickpea curry, black beans and cauliflower with brown rice.
  • Redeem your breakfast with eggs, bacon and sausages for a delicious vegetarian omelet with onions, tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers.
  • Make a menu of the week and plan your meals and food purchases for the week. By having a clear plan for what you want to buy, you will save not only money and time, but also limit food waste.
  • Limit the amount of meat included in your braai weekend to one option. You can always add other items such as black garlic stuffed mushrooms, barbecue sauce brinjals and onion vegetables, peppers, cherry tomatoes and zucchini babies.
  • To reduce dependence on refined starches, experiment with other starchy foods such as brown rice, couscous and whole wheat pasta. You can replace your starchy vegetables and corn-based side dishes by creating other fantastic side dishes by simply adding these starchy foods to your salads and veggies. Include lentils or chickpeas for a complete meal.
  • Rethink what you do with food waste. Using the leftovers for the next day's lunchboxes or freezing the remaining sauces as a base for an upcoming meal is a good start.
  • Buy fresh, seasonal, locally produced fruits and vegetables, and limit already cut and pre-packaged fruits and vegetables. By doing this, you will not only save money, but you will also significantly reduce your plastic consumption.
  • Choose water rather than sugary drinks. Use reusable bottles to limit your disposable plastic items. "

While the global health diet focuses on a sustainable global food system, better for the environment, it has also been specifically designed to be beneficial to human health. EAT-Lancet researchers believe that the global diet can save 11 million lives by reducing overweight, obesity and other diet-related health problems. Because all life is connected and interdependent, which is good for the planet is also for us.

Image credit: iStock

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