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The planetary health diet: a meal plan that's good for you and good for the Earth

Experts from the EAT-Lancet Commission are in Vancouver Tuesday evening, speaking on their report's implications at SFU's Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue at 5p.m. Their presentation can also be livestreamed from the event website.

Report identifies urgent challenge of providing nearly 10 billion with healthy, sustainable diets by 2050

The diet outlined in the EAT-Lancet Commission report is plant based and flexitarian, meaning that moderate amounts of meat, dairy and fish can be included. (Shutterstock)

It's time for humans to think beyond our own bodies when it comes to health, according to a new scientific review of eating plans.

When we think about a healthy diet, the first thing that often comes to mind is how it's going to improve our physical well-being, help us lose weight or reduce our risk of heart disease or cancer.

But beyond these concerns there is an even bigger issue attached to the types of food we eat, and that is the health of the planet.

An international group of scientists has just released the world's first full review of what constitutes a diet that is healthy both for humans and for our habitat. 

What's good for you is good for the planet

The planetary health diet is the result of the EAT-Lancet Commission report that, for the first time, compiled existing scientific knowledge on health and sustainable food practices from around the world.

The report identified providing nearly 10 billion people with healthy and sustainable diets by the year 2050 as one of the most urgent health and environmental challenges of the century. 

The diet aligns the two goals into one with the hope that consumers will consider how their choices reverberate back through the food chain and the ecosystem.

"Food systems have the potential to nurture human health and support environmental sustainability; however, they are currently threatening both," says the commission report.

"By choosing this diet, we can drive demand for the right foods and send clear market signals all the way through the food value chain back to the farmers."

What is the diet?

The diet is relatively simple and aligns closely with the recently released Canada Food Guide

Both diets are plant based and flexitarian, meaning that moderate amounts of meat, dairy and fish can be included.

As expected, heavily processed foods are frowned upon and the recommendations are heavy on the whole grains,

Canada's new food guide places a stronger emphasis on fruits and vegetables and encourages more whole grain foods and plant-based proteins. It's directing the new school food rules in Newfoundland and Labrador. (Health Canada )

The commission's report finds that food production is responsible for up to 30 per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions and 70 per cent of freshwater use.

These numbers combined with growing global obesity on one end of the spectrum and malnutrition on the other points to a global food crisis for people and the planet.

Experts from the commission visit Vancouver Tuesday evening to discuss in detail how individuals can transform the impact their diet has on the environment on a local and global level.

A forum takes place at SFU's Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue at 5p.m. and can be livestreamed from the event website.

Listen to food columnist Gail Johnson's discuss the Planetary Health Diet here:

With files from Gail Johnson


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