PUTTING THE PLANET ON A DIET

An international team of 37 experts called the EAT-Lancet Commission has generated the first scientific targets for a nutritionally sound and sustainably produced planetwide diet. Global consumption of foods such as fruits and nuts would double, while the world’s appetite for red meat and sugar would be cut in half. The aim? To feed 10 billion people by 2050 while also protecting the environment.

by manuel canales

more greens on the plate

Not all foods are created equal. The global diet emphasizes plant-based foods and limits animal products, which often have environmentally harmful production practices and are linked to chronic disease.

Added sugars 2.6%

Plant-based food

90.8%

a sustainable appetite

Scientists calculated the diet by first analyzing a food’s nutritional data, then its environmental impact. Some foods are recommended in larger amounts (measured in grams)—such as vegetables that are both sustainable and healthy.

less sustainable

more sustainable

vegetables

300 grams

Dairy

250g

Dairy production is less sustainable than vegetables and grains but more environmentally

friendly than meat.

Whole Grains

232g

Fruits

200g

Legumes

75g

Starchy Vegetables

50 g

Nuts

50g

Poultry

29g

Fish

28g

Red Meat

14g

Eggs

13g

Sustainability factors include greenhouse gas emissions, and land and energy use.

how far off target are we?

Here the daily diet is broken down by food type and compared with current average food intake in world regions.

Regional breakdown per the EAT-Lancet Commission

North America

Europe & Central Asia

East Asia

& the Pacific

South

Asia

Latin America

& the Caribbean

Middle East

& North Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa

Dotted semicircles show the targets of the diet’s recommended daily consumption BASED ON CONSUMPTION OF 2,500 CALORIES A DAY.

vegetables

Low in calories and providing essential macronutrients, vegetables are also an inexpensive food source.

300

grams

27% of target

Sub-Saharan Africa

Middle East

& North Africa

Underconsumed

Close to target

whole grains

Enough grain to feed the 2050 popu- lation is grown today, but much of it is fed to livestock.

232

8%

Latin America

& the Caribbean

North America

fruits

People worldwide are not eating enough fruit. Fruits and vegetables should make up half our daily diet.

200

36%

Sub-Saharan Africa

Latin America

& the Caribbean

legumes

Beans and peanuts provide protein; soy is already heavily consumed in East Asia.

75

14%

South

Asia

Europe & Central Asia

starchy vegetables

Cassavas and potatoes are cheap staples but by themselves are not nutritionally sufficient.

729%

above target

50

South

Asia

Sub-Saharan Africa

Close to target

Overconsumed

nuts

These valuable sources of healthy fats aren’t consumed as much as they should be around the world.

2%

50

North America

Latin America

& the Caribbean

EGGS

The diet’s target amount— 13 grams—adds up to just one and a half eggs a week.

268%

41%

13

South

Asia

North America

POULTRY

Wealthier, Western Hemisphere regions eat large amounts of poultry, which the diet considers optional.

234%

14%

28

South

Asia

North America

Europe & Central Asia

FISH

A concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, and protein, sustainably har- vested fish is emphasized in the diet.

152%

48%

28

South

Asia

East Asia

& the Pacific

Europe & Central Asia

DAIRY

Dairy is a renewable source of protein, calcium, and other nutrients.

145%

250

17%

North America

Sub-Saharan Africa

Europe & Central Asia

RED MEAT

Meat is nutritious but unhealthy if overconsumed. Cattle farms are a leading source of methane emissions.

638%

46%

14

Sub-Saharan Africa

North America

South Asia

*RECOMMENDED GLOBAL DIET IS BASED ON CONSUMPTION OF 2,500 calories/DAY.

 

researcher: ALEXANDER STEGMAIER.

SOURCES: BRENT LOKEN, EAT; THE EAT-LANCET COMMISSION ON FOOD, PLANET,HEALTH

Read the full story

PUTTING THE PLANET ON A DIET

An international team of 37 experts called the EAT-Lancet Commission has generated the first scientific targets for a nutritionally sound and sustainably produced planetwide diet. Global consumption of foods such as fruits and nuts would double, while the world’s appetite for red meat and sugar would be cut in half. The aim? To feed 10 billion people by 2050 while also protecting the environment.

by manuel canales

Added sugars 2.6%

Animal-sourced protein (including dairy)

6.6%

more greens on the plate

Not all foods are created equal. The global diet emphasizes plant-based foods and limits animal products, which often have environmentally harmful production practices and are linked to chronic disease.

Plant-based food

90.8%

a sustainable appetite

Scientists calculated the diet by first analyzing a food’s nutritional data, then its environmental impact. Some foods are recommended in larger amounts (measured in grams)—such as vegetables that are both sustainable and healthy.

less sustainable

more sustainable

300

grams

Vegetables

Dairy

Whole Grains

Dairy production is less sustainable than vegetables and grains but more environmentally

friendly than meat.

200

Fruits

100

Starchy Vegetables

Legumes

Fish

Poultry

Red Meat

Eggs

Nuts

Sustainability factors include greenhouse gas emissions, and land and energy use.

how far off target are we?

Here the daily diet is broken down by food type and compared with current average food intake in world regions.

Regional breakdown per the EAT-Lancet Commission

North America

Europe & Central Asia

East Asia

& the Pacific

Latin America

& the Caribbean

South

Asia

Middle East

& North Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa

vegetables

Low in calories and providing essential macronutrients, vegetables are also an inexpensive food source.

Regions closest to the targets, shown by dotted semicircles, are most aligned with the diet’s recommended daily consumption* for that food type.

27% of target

300 grams

Underconsumed

Close to target

Overconsumed

Middle East & North Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa

whole grains

Enough grain to feed the 2050 population is grown today, but much of it is fed to livestock.

232

8%

North America

Latin America & the Caribbean

fruits

People worldwide are not eating enough fruit. Fruits and vegetables should make up half our daily diet.

200

36%

Latin America & the Caribbean

Sub-Saharan Africa

legumes

Beans and peanuts provide protein; soy is already heavily consumed in East Asia.

75

14%

Europe & Central Asia

South Asia

starchy vegetables

729%

above target

Cassavas and potatoes are cheap staples but by themselves are not nutritionally sufficient.

50

South Asia

Sub-Saharan Africa

nuts

These valuable sources of healthy fats aren’t consumed as much as they should be around the world.

50

2%

Latin America & the Caribbean

North America

EGGS

The diet’s target amount— 13 grams—adds up to just one and a half eggs a week.

268%

41%

13

North America

South Asia

Middle East & North Africa

POULTRY

Wealthier, Western Hemisphere regions eat large amounts of poultry, which the diet considers optional.

234%

14%

28

South Asia

Europe & Central Asia

North America

FISH

A concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, and protein, sustainably harvested fish is emphasized in the diet.

152%

48%

28

South Asia

Europe & Central Asia

East Asia

& the Pacific

DAIRY

Dairy is a renewable source of protein, calcium, and other nutrients.

145%

17%

250

Sub-Saharan Africa

Europe & Central Asia

North America

RED MEAT

Meat is nutritious but unhealthy if overconsumed. Cattle farms are a leading source of methane emissions.

638%

46%

14

South Asia

Sub-Saharan Africa

North America

*RECOMMENDED GLOBAL DIET IS BASED ON CONSUMPTION OF 2,500 Calories/DAY.

 

researcher: ALEXANDER STEGMAIER.

SOURCES: BRENT LOKEN, EAT; THE EAT-LANCET COMMISSION ON FOOD, PLANET,HEALTH

Read the full story