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What is the Planetary Health Diet?
What is the Planetary Health Diet?
15th Apr, 2019
TAGS: planet

According to data from the United Nations our population has gone from 3.7 billion to 7.8 billion in the last 50 years and it has been estimated that in the next fifty, this figure is set to rise to an astonishing 10.6 billion people. Alongside this population increase has been a change in the way people eat as they shift to unhealthy foods that are high in calories, are heavily processed and reliant on meat. The reality is that this way of eating is unsustainable and is contributing to both the global burden of disease and environmental stress.

While our Instagram feeds may be full of trendy green juices and Buddha Bowls, the true impact of nutrition on a global scale is that unhealthy diets are the leading cause of ill-health worldwide as 800 million people go hungry, two billion are malnourished and a further two billion are overweight or obese.

We have all grown accustomed to the abundance of meat, fish, fruits and vegetables available all year round regardless of season. However, the reality of this access to food is that it comes from a system that many academics have considered to be ‘broken’ according to a recent paper published in the Lancet ( https://eatforum.org/content/uploads/2019/04/EAT-L...). The findings from this paper culminate to the Planetary diet, which has evolved from the expertise of 37 leading researchers in the field of climate change, nutrition and farming, and promises to offer the best outcomes for both health and the environment.

What is the planetary diet?

The Planetary diet outlines a set of food guidelines that are based on scientific research. This ambitious global eating plan has been designed as a way of saving countless lives whilst helping to insure food security for up to 10 billion people. The diet also addresses the environmental implications of our food production such as the major role played by livestock farming, which is complicit in driving climate change (emission of greenhouse gases), destruction of wildlife and the pollution of rivers and oceans.

What are the principles of the Planetary diet?

The research outlines the following guidelines to adhere to the diet on a daily basis:

Meat, poultry and fish (protein)

  • Red meat – 14g per day (equivalent of 98g per week – 1 small burger patty, serving of mince or steak)
  • Chicken – 29g per day (equivalent to 203g per week – 2 small chicken breasts)
  • Fish – 28g per day (equivalent to 196g per week – 2 small fillets)

Nuts and legumes (protein)

  • Nuts - 50g per day (2 small handfuls)
  • Dried beans, pulses and lentils – 75g per day (third of a 400g can drained and includes 25g of soy foods)

Fruits and vegetables

  • Each plate of food you eat should be made up of at least half fruit (200g per day) and vegetables – 300g per day (1 serving is roughly a handful)
  • Starchy vegetables such as potatoes – 50g per day (1/2 medium potato)

Carbohydrates

These should be similar amounts to fruits and vegetables:

  • Wholegrains and pseudo grains such as brown rice, wholemeal pasta, quinoa and oats – 232g per day (77g – one third of this – is approximately 5 tbsp of brown rice)

Eggs and dairy

  • Eggs – 13g per day (equivalent to 2 eggs per week)
  • Dairy (milk) – 250ml (1 glass) per day

Additionally, you can also have:

  • All sugars – 31g per day (no more than 6tsp sugar – this includes natural and added)
  • Unsaturated oils (such as olive oil) – 40ml per day (3 ½ tbsp)
  • Saturated oils (such as butter or coconut oil) – 11.8g per day (1 tbsp)

According to the research, global adherence to this diet could save at least 11 million people a year (globally) from deaths caused by unhealthy eating whilst preventing the collapse of the natural world. A radical shift in how people eat is required to improve both health and the environment meaning the consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes will have to double, whilst the intake of foods such as red meat and sugar needs to be reduced by 50%.

In short, following the guidelines of the Planetary diet could:

  • Save water supplies
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Stop unnecessary farmland expansion
  • Feed significantly more people
  • Improve general health and wellbeing
  • Reduce food waste.


Rob Hobson is a registered nutritionist (BSc, MSc, AFN), published author and food writer. Rob has 15 years of experience working with some of the UK’s leading food companies, government agencies, NHS and private clients as well as regularly writing in the media for publications including the Daily Mail online.


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