Scientists warn that red meat and sugar consumption must halve by 2050


Reducing red meat consumption to half a rasher of bacon a day and eating more nuts will help avert climate change, scientists say.

It contributes to climate change, biodiversity loss and freshwater use.

To achieve this will require a big change in people's eating habits, including more than a 50% cut in global consumption of unhealthy foods such as red meat and sugar, and more than double the consumption of healthy foods such as nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes.

The commission developed the new "planetary health diet" with the goal of feeding 10 billion people, healthfully and without damaging the planet, by 2050.

Human diets inextricably link health and environmental sustainability and have the potential to nurture both.

Researchers said unhealthy diets now cause more death and disease worldwide than unsafe sex, alcohol, drug and tobacco use combined.

Those who enjoy eggs in the morning will also be limited to around 1.5 per week, the EAT-Lancet Commission said.

While the recommended planetary health diet is substantially different from how Canadians eat, it aligns with both the 2007 Canada Food Guide and the proposed revisions, says Jess Haines, associate professor in the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition at the University of Guelph.

"While this is unchartered policy territory and these problems are not easily fixed, this goal is within reach and there are opportunities to adapt global, local and business policies".

"In the largest prospective study of vegetarian diets, people following vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or semi-vegetarian diets had 12% lower overall mortality risk than did omnivores".

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"We can no longer feed our population a healthy diet while balancing planetary resources", offers the study's introductory notes.

According to the findings, such a radical plan could avert between 10.8 million and 11.6 million deaths every year across the planet.

Effective governance of land and ocean use was also necessary to preserve natural ecosystems and maintain food supplies, said the report.

The commission's report comes as the New England Journal of Medicine published a "grim analysis" on Thursday which warns that the World Health Organization's conclusion from just five years ago that rising global temperatures over the next few decades will kill 250,000 people per year is a "conservative estimate".

An global team of experts has put lower meat consumption at the heart of a "planetary health diet" to stave off catastrophic damage to the Earth.

EAT-Lancet says this blueprint works for all food cultures and production systems because it can be adapted to local produce and tastes and scaled up.

As a policy to eliminate and restrict food choice, the report recommends new taxes and charges, rationing, and in extreme cases - withdrawing products from sale.

But the report's co-lead, Commissioner Professor Johan Rockström, said current methods of food production "now pose a threat to the stability of the planet".

Christopher Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs in London said the report "reveals the full agenda of nanny-state campaigners". The diet does allow added sugars but just 31g a day. They note the recommendations are compatible with the US dietary guidelines, which say to limit saturated fat to 10 percent of calories.