What we eat matters, to our health and to our planet's health. The food we consume not only impacts our well-being but also the health of our planet. Our current food choices and production methods impact natural resources, our health and the planet at large. Agricultural food processes are depleting the planet's freshwater supply and accelerating deforestation and biodiversity loss in the tropics. Food made in this harmful manner is frequently consumed in excess or insufficiently. Plant-based diets are high on human health benefits and low in environmental impacts. By reducing greenhouse gas emission by at least 30%, agricultural land use by at least 41% and wildlife loss by up to 46%, plant based diets support global sustainability.
This promotes a greater proportion of consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. Meat and dairy constitute significantly smaller proportions. The Mediterranean diet and vegetarian diet are some of the examples of planet based diets. It suggests that an average adult requires 2500 kcal per day, discouraging overconsumption as it is a waste of food with both health and environmental costs. Planet-based diets will aid in the transition from a food system that abuses the planet to one that restores it for the benefit of nature and humans. By encouraging agrobiodiversity, such diets help balancing health, nutrition and planetary restoration while bringing biodiversity back to life.
These diets will look different around the world depending upon various factors such as climatic conditions, availability, affordability. For example, shifting to healthier diets with the right amount of food can reduce biodiversity loss in Brazil by at least 64% but the same diet would increase biodiversity loss by as much as 91% in Indonesia. These diets have numerous benefits to both the people and the planet. It has shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, depression, as well as better mental and physical function. Reversing biodiversity loss, remaining within the global carbon budget for food, maximizing existing cropland, attaining negative emissions, and optimizing crop yields are five strategic activities that would benefit from a planet-based diet, according to WWF.
Let us look at some ways in which we as individuals can work towards achieving planet based diets.
Choose sustainable and ethically-produced foods that do not threaten local biodiversity. Choosing local or organic food items is another simple way of adding to your health and your savings!
Minimize processed foods as they often provide less to no nutritional value to your diet. Occasional treats are a must! But one should find a way back to the greens.
Ensuring balance and variety in the wholegrains, fruits and vegetables you consume is another way to shift to a planet-based diet.
According to WWF, meat and dairy animal consumption account for the majority of water use, and eating plant-based foods can reduce water use by 8% in the United States. It is important to change the way you think about meat. One can use it in small amounts or use it in garnishing to reduce the impact its consumption has on the environment.
A planet-based diet, in essence, prioritizes local needs, food accessibility, and nutrition while addressing issues such as tropical deforestation and biodiversity loss. The WWF responded by releasing an online application that allows anyone to do just that. The Impact and Action Calculator for Planet-Based Diets reveals each person's impact and places for improvement. Countries can also come up with their own solutions that are compatible with a planet-based diet. Let’s begin with a green meal a day and take our step towards our as well as the planet's well-being!