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New report: How to eat well for a healthy planet

Eating Better has welcomed the peer review and publication of UK Principles of Healthy and Sustainable Eating Patterns. The review of the research behind the principles has found clear compatibility between pro-environmental eating patterns and good health.

The 8 principles of healthy and sustainable eating patterns

1. Eat a varied balanced diet to maintain a healthy body weight.

2. Eat more plant based foods, including at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

3. Value your food. Ask about where it comes from and how it is produced. Don’t waste it.

4. Choose fish sourced from sustainable stocks, taking seasonality and capture methods into consideration.

5. Moderate your meat consumption, and enjoy more peas, beans and pulses, tofu, nuts, and other plant sources of protein.

6. Include milk and dairy products in your diet and/or seek out plant based alternatives, including those that are fortified with additional vitamins and minerals.

7. Drink tap water.

8. Eat fewer foods high in fat, sugar and salt.

On meat consumption it recommends this can be moderated by:

  • eating a variety of meat and meat free meals (and/or having meat free days),
  • eating meat in smaller portion sizes (e.g. 70g (2-3oz) cooked weight),
  • making dishes with less meat but incorporating other sources of protein such as lentils, beans, tofu and other soy products or nuts,
  • using smaller quantities of meat as a ‘garnish’ to add flavour to dishes.

Sue Dibb for Eating Better says: “Eating Better welcomes the publication of this report. There is now broad agreement on the principles underpinning eating well for our health and for the health of the planet. We now need this advice to be incorporated into the Eatwell Plate – the UK’s official dietary guidance – so that everyone, including health professionals, educators, food companies, civil society as well as the public can have access to this advice and for it to be incorporated into practices and policies.”

The principles were first developed in 2013 by a working group of the DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) convened Green Food Project. Representation comprised a cross-section of key stakeholders, including farming interests, members of the food and drink manufacturing industry, food service industry and a range of NGOs including Eating Better, retail representatives and academics. The working group behind the principles was co-chaired by Tara Garnett (Food Cimate Research Network) and Maureen Strong (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board). The principles have now been peer reviewed and published by the cross-government Global Food Security Programme.

Eatng Better is calling for actions that help shift our eating patterns towards healthier sustainable diets to be centre-stage in government food, farming and climate change policies. This includes calling on the Department of Health and its delivery body, Public Health England to update the Eatwell Plate and associated advice in line with the newly published Principles. We will keep readers updated on progress.

The Principles of Sustainable and Healthy Eating Patterns: follow-on work to the Green Food Project, focusing on sustainable consumption is published by the Global Food Security Programme, and available here.

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