We’re only human. We need more than one reason to change our diet. Yes, our doctors urging us to make changes is a big motivator. Having a closet full of clothes that don’t fit is another. Feeling uncomfortable in our skin is a third. But, old habits are hard to break, and less healthy and more convenient foods are tasty.
One big motivator for some people can be helping the planet. While the ideas of climate and the future might be nebulous, we all want our children and theirs to live in a healthy world. When we look to the future, it can seem a bit bleak. The global population is projected to grow to 10 billion people over the 21st century. Eating sustainably seems less of a buzzword and more of a necessity when we think about passing the planet on to the next generation.
The planetary health diet helps not only the environment but also your health. It cuts down hugely on a person’s carbon footprint while also causing you to eat a healthier mix of food. The diet cuts down on animal-based protein while increasing vegetables and unprocessed foods. Animal agriculture is a huge source of greenhouse emissions.
“As such, dietary change in high-income countries may hold the potential to substantially reduce agricultural emissions around the world,” researchers wrote.
The diet is also great for your health. It reduces your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, blood sugar concerns and helps you lose weight. Its benefits for heart health and overall health cannot be stressed enough.
There are some drawbacks to it. We’ll say, out the gate, there are no health drawbacks. While getting iron and zinc with less meat can be harder, it’s not impossible. You just have to think about your options. But thinking about your choices is the crux of the issue with the planetary health diet. To follow the diet, half your plate should be nonstarchy vegetables. The rest of the plate is somewhat complicated math. It lists how many grams of what types of foods you should be eating.
There is an infographic of what a plate should look like, seen in the banner. But it is nothing like the easy-to-follow diagram presented by MyPlate. Cutting back on animal protein and eating more fruits, vegetables and unprocessed foods is excellent for your body and the environment. But, while this diet might be king of doing both, it might not be the most easily achievable. If you are great at investing yourself in a diet, it might be a perfect fit for you, but it does take a lot of thought. We also worry it could lead to an unhealthy or obsessive relationship with food when you’re measuring everything to the gram.
The diet can be an excellent fit for some. For others, it might be unsustainable or too complicated to follow. In the end, we think that you might be best served by following the spirit of the diet. Eating less meat while enjoying more whole foods is terrific for the planet and your health. If you use it as a roadmap and think about it in terms of your health and a way to help the world of tomorrow, you may find it easier to stick with!