The EAT-Lancet Commission report published today provides for the first time scientific targets for what constitutes both a healthy diet and a sustainable food system.
The report reiterates the urgent need for a radical transformation in diets and in agriculture. It sets out the need for concerted international and national action to tackle the impacts of unhealthy diets while also addressing the impacts of food production such as climate change, biodiversity loss, land and freshwater use, as well as nutrient cycles.
The report sets out a reference point for a healthy and sustainable food system, while allowing for regional diversity. The daily dietary pattern of a planetary health diet consists of approximately 35% of calories as whole grains and tubers, protein sources mainly from plants – but including approximately 14g of red meat per day –and 500g per day of vegetables and fruits. It also includes a low to moderate amount of seafood and poultry.
A transition to this new dietary pattern will require global consumption of foods such as red meat and sugar to decrease by about 50%, while consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes must double. This aligns with Eating Better’s call for the need to reduce consumption of meat in countries like the UK by 50%, while recognising the value of better sources of animal protein like grass fed and organic beef.
While this report like others demonstrates a clear case for a transformation of the way we eat and how we produce it, there is growing need for leadership and policy to support this transition.
The report sets out a number of policies to encourage people to choose healthy diets, including education campaigns and restrictions on advertising. It also recognises that food prices must reflect the real production and environmental costs. As this may increase costs to consumers, social protection for vulnerable groups may be required to avoid continued poor nutrition in low-income groups.
These guidelines will support the work of Eating Better and many others working towards healthy diets and sustainable food systems. Given the urgency of transition that’s needed our focus will be working with others on real changes needed to deliver this in the future.
The report which can be read in full here was developed over two years by the EAT-Lancet Commission consisting of 37 world leading scientists across disciplines.