Sustainable Diet Planetary Health – The worldwide adoption of healthy diets derived from sustainable diets will protect our planet and recover the health of billions of people. This is the main conclusion of the study presented in 2019 by the EAT-Lancet panel, made up of thirty researchers from 16 countries, from various approaches (agriculture, public health, politics or environmental sustainability, among others), who sought consensus on determining how a diet should be as beneficial to humans as it is to the planet. They find it in what they call the “Planetary Health System”, a sustainable food proposal that seeks to combat the harmful effects of pollution and climate change, such as global warming, the loss of ecosystems, the disappearance of species, the reduction of availability and increased prices of food.
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How does our diet affect the environment?
Our diet affects our health, but also the environment. The food sector accounts for 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Rendering to data from the Ministry of Environmental Transformation, agriculture and livestock are responsible for 12% of these gases in Spain, a figure that organizations such as Greenpeace or Ecologists in Action raise up to 25% because official data, they say, does not. Include all indirect emissions from industry, such as transportation or food processing.
But its impact on the environment goes much further. For example, the expansion of monoculture, particularly due to its demand for livestock such as soybeans, is causing widespread deforestation. The development of industrial livestock pollutes aquifers with nitrates, releases large amounts of harmful gases and reduces the diversity of animal species: according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), a fifth of the breeds of cattle of the world are in danger of extinction.
The food sector is also an industry that uses single-use plastics, many of which end up polluting our seas and oceans. “The data is strong enough to warrant immediate action,” says the EAT-Lancet report.
The planetary diet: what it is made of Sustainable Diet Planetary Health
Among the main benefits of the planetary diet environment are the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the efficient use of water, the avoided disappearance of ecosystems to achieve a greater richness of biodiversity and the improvement of the quality of agricultural land. .
More vegetables, less animals
The planetary diet is based primarily on plant foods, which may optionally include modest amounts of fish, meat, and dairy products. In short, in a plate on the table, half will be full of vegetables and fruits, while the other half will be composed mainly of whole grains such as wheat, rice or corn, proteins of plant origin -mainly legumes-, as well as nuts and seeds. In one corner, barely 10% of our entire plate, there will be some meat, some fish, cheese and milk.
Cultures and traditions Sustainable Diet Planetary Health
Food professionals remind us that the Planetary Healthy Diet does not talk about specific products (rice, corn, chickpeas), but more general terms (legumes, cereals, seeds) because each part of the world has its own local products. It is easy to understand: the climate or the availability of land is not the same as in the Mediterranean, the Nordic countries or Japan, but each region has its own planetary diet. This is tailored for each region, but is a common standard. This is why there are similarities with the traditional food pyramid.
The big difference between the two is that the traditional type has given more importance to meat, especially in developing countries that aspire to increase protein consumption on their tables through products of animal origin. As society gets richer, it consumes more meat, especially beef and pork. Then when you reach a certain level of income, it should stop, but it doesn’t, because we still think our diet is low in protein.
“There can’t be a global food system because every part of the world is different. It wouldn’t be fair, inclusive, or socially and culturally reasonable,” says Elisa Oteros, Ph.D., an environmentalist. There are those who need to reduce the consumption of some products and those who need to increase it. The important thing is to associate food with the availability of local resources as closely as possible. And if something is missing to cover the needs of carbohydrates, nutrients, proteins or vitamins, add it to the appropriate scale”.
Strategies for a more sustainable diet
The adaptation to the territory of these healthy diets is as important as the sustainable production of food, which must go through the decarbonization of the global energy system, that is, abandon fossil coals such as coal, oil or natural gas and replace them with renewable energies. renewable.
To achieve a more sustainable diet, the agency suggests five strategies:
1. International and national commitment to transformation
“We cannot put all the duty on the shoulders of the consumer: we must show the pressure exerted by the agri-food industry to avoid changes that affect its production. Administrative and political commitment is necessary so that food, in the end, is considered a right” . and not a business, that will facilitate the change of the productive system”, explains Otteros. Governments have much to say and do. In this sense, the European Recovery Plan, with its so-called Next Generation Money, should act as a boost for the agri-food sector and accelerate the process that science says has to happen in one way or another.
2. Reorientation of agricultural priorities
Other strategies cited by researchers to improve the health of the planets and humans is to reorient agricultural priorities so that instead of mass-producing the same foods using polluting techniques, it squeezes nutrients out of the soil until it suffocates them, it does so through more diverse production. Nutritious, healthy and sustainable. A good example of this is the commitment to organic farming, so strongly promoted by the European Union. Reduced meat consumption may also include a reduced need for feed for livestock populations and thus these lands may be redirected for human consumption.
3. Sustainably intensify food production
Similarly, novelty and the use of technology will allow higher yields per hectare, as well as drastic improvements in the efficiency of water and fertilizer use, phosphorus recycling, redistribution of global nitrogen and phosphorus use, implementation of climate mitigation options , including changes in crop and forage management and improved biology of diversity within farming systems.
4. Strong and coordinated land and ocean management
The document highlights the need to improve the management of land and oceans. In the first case, with policies that prevent the “expansion of new agricultural lands within natural ecosystems and forests rich in species”, as well as restoring already degraded areas and international mechanisms that help conserve biodiversity. In the second case, ensure the compatibility of the fishing sector with the conservation of fishing.
Diet affects our health, but also the environment. The food sector accounts for 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Rendering to data from the Ministry of Environmental Transformation, agriculture and livestock are responsible for 12% of these gases in Spain, a figure that organizations such as Greenpeace or Ecologists in Action raise up to 25% because official data, they say, does not. Include all indirect emissions from industry, such as transportation or food processing.