Scientists say this diet will save lives and the Earth

Less red meat and sugar, more vegetables and legumes are required.
Publish date:
Updated on

Scientists have come up with a diet that they believe will save millions of lives a year and will also prove sustainable for humans amid the threat of climate change.

The report published in medical journal The Lancet could provide the sustenance required to feed 10 billion people if everyone adopted it by 2050, while not causing serious damage to the planet.

It's the work of Stockholm-based nonprofit EAT, comprising the work of 37 scientists who looked at ways to reduce the climate impact of food consumption.

What are the key parts of the diet?

Less red meat, unsurprisingly, is one of the suggestions, as meat production has a higher environmental impact per serving compared to other food groups, as well as having more serious implications for human health.

EAT says that red meat consumption should be limited to 98g – or 3.4oz – a week, so basically a quarter-pound burger. Its research notes that North America is by far the biggest consumer of red meat.

Current food consumption by food group and continent.

Current food consumption by food group and continent.

The same goes for processed meat, added sugar, refined grains and starchy vegetables – namely potatoes – consumption of which should be significantly reduced.

It also advocates for "low to moderate amounts" of seafood and poultry –  while the human race should be doubling the amounts of vegetables, fruits, legumes and nuts it eats.  

With the climate already changing as a result of historic greenhouse gas emissions, EAT says this diet should lessen the carbon footprint of food production, which currently accounts for 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and 70 percent of freshwater use.

The study also says that the diet will prevent around 11 million deaths a year, thanks to a reduction in heart attacks, strokes and some cancers.

The diet to save the world

Here's what the EAT study says humans should consume in a week.

– 3.4 oz. of red meat (beef, pork, lamb)

– 7 oz. of poultry

– 7 oz. of seafood

– 1.5 lbs. of legumes (dried beans, lentils, peas, soy foods, peanuts)

– 3.8 lbs. of dairy (including milk and cheese)

– 4.6 lbs. of vegetables

– 3.1 lbs. of fruit

– 3.5 lbs. of whole grains (rice, wheat, corn etc. – dry weight)

– 12 oz. of potatoes

– 7.6 oz. of sweeteners (ie. sugar)

– 8 oz. of tree nuts

– About 2 medium eggs

Next Up