Eat Right for the Planet

December 28, 2021
Karla Aguero, Community Health Advocate.

The current global food system is a double-edged sword with easy access to food, yet a strain on the environment as well as public health. Our planet is vulnerable to natural resource losses unless we adopt a sustainable food system and way of eating. While an overhaul in agricultural practices and food systems are needed, individual action is also beneficial. The time has come for us to collaborate on planetary healthcare. What we eat is our gift to both other people and planet.

The food we eat, including the ways we produce, distribute, consume and dispose of it, has major impact on individual and environmental health. Limiting food waste and consuming local and in-season produce is something the individual can focus on. In wealthy countries overconsumption in general impacts not just our waistlines, but the environment. The EAT-Lancet Report recommends a daily amount of 2,500 calories per person with individual variability related to activity level, gender, age and health profile to limit overconsumption and end-consumer waste.

Eating more plant-based foods alongside fewer animal-sourced foods is a healthy, sustainable gift and can be delicious. Fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruit. The other half of your plate allots for grains, plant-based proteins and unsaturated plant oils with optional modest amounts of animal proteins, including meat and dairy.

Planetary gift guide

Eat less:

  • Large portions of beef
  • Large amounts of dairy
  • Grain-fed meat

Eat more:

  • Plant-sourced protein (beans, lentils, pulses)
  • Modest amounts of grass-fed meat and dairy
  • Fruit, whole grains, nuts
  • Vegetables, unsaturated oils

It's about progress, not perfection. Getting started can be simple:

  • Incorporate oatmeal, fruit and nuts into your breakfast routine.
  • Sprinkle peas on salad instead of sirloin.
  • Add zucchini, onions and mushrooms to your pasta sauce rather than ground meat.
  • Exchange your bowl of ice cream for a fruit salad topped with a dollop of ice cream.
  • Think of meat, poultry or fish as the side, not the main dish.

Reference: The EAT-Lancet Commission. The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health.

This nutrition tip was provided by Molly McGuirt, Dietetic Intern at St. Anthony North Hospital.