Planetary health diet

The planetary health diet is a flexitarian diet created by the EAT-Lancet commission[1][2] as part of a report released in The Lancet on 16 January 2019.[3] The aim of the report and the diet it developed is to create dietary paradigms that have the following aims:[2]

  • To feed a world's population of 10 billion people in 2050
  • To greatly reduce the worldwide number of deaths caused by poor diet
  • To be environmentally sustainable as to prevent the collapse of the natural world
Example of a planetary diet meal recommended by the EAT-Lancet commission


To achieve this, it has defined heavy restrictions on the consumption of meat, dairy, and starchy vegetables, specifically red meat. The aim of this is not only to lessen the impact of the meat and dairy industries on the environment, but also to, theoretically, drastically decrease saturated fat and sugar intake from these food groups.[2] Today's consumption of meat and dairy often exceeds nutritional recommendations.[4]

Healthy diets have an optimal caloric intake and consist largely of a diversity of plant-based foods, low amounts of animal source foods, contain unsaturated rather than saturated fats, and limited amounts of refined grains, highly processed foods and added sugars.

Scientific targets for a planetary health diet, with possible ranges, for an intake of 2500 kcal/day.
Food Macronutrient intake grams per day (possible range) Caloric intake

kcal per day

Example Comparison
Vegetables 300 (200–600) 78
Dairy foods 250 (0–500) 153 one cup of milk per day
Whole grains 232 811
Fruits 200 (100–300) 126
Tubers or Starchy vegetables 50 (0–100) 39 Two medium-sized potatoes or servings of cassava per week
Unsaturated oils 40 (20–80) 354
Added sugars 31 120 two tablespoons of honey per day
Saturated oils 11.8 (0-11.8) 96
Protein sources
Food Macronutrient intake grams per day (possible range) Caloric intake

kcal per day

Example Comparison
Legumes 75 (0–100) 284
Nuts 50 (0–75) 291
Chicken and other poultry 29 62 one boneless, skinless chicken thigh every other day or one slice of chicken lunch meat per day
Fish 28 40
Beef, lamb and pork 14 30 one strip of bacon every other day or one medium-size hamburger per week twice the average per capita consumption in Asia, and the average amount of red meat eaten in Africa[5]
Eggs 13 19 one egg every third day (e.g., poached, made into pancakes, etc.) half the egg consumption in Japan and China;[6] six times the egg consumption in India[7]

There are also other restrictions on the amount of fruit, vegetables, legumes, grains, and oil. This is because the diet is created around a total intake of 2,500 calories a day (i.e., to discourage overeating). But the main focus is on greatly reducing meat, eggs, dairy, and starchy vegetables. The EAT-Lancet Commission describes the planetary health diet as a "flexitarian diet, which is largely plant-based but can optionally include modest amounts of fish, meat and dairy foods."[2]


The UK newspaper The Guardian[8] and US news outlet CNN[9] have given the diet positive coverage.

Harry Harris, writing in New Statesman, was wary of claims that the diet could transform the world's food system, saying, “It seems churlish to keep placing the onus for climate change onto individual’s behaviour, when we know that 100 companies are responsible for 71 per cent of global emissions."[10]

The World Health Organization withdrew its sponsorship of the EAT-Lancet event following criticism from Gian Lorenzo Cornado, Italy's representative to the Geneva international organizations. Cornado said that adopting one dietary approach for the whole planet would destroy traditional diets and cultural heritage, and that reducing meat and candy consumption would cause the loss of millions of jobs.[5]

In 2019, Francisco J. Zagmutt and colleagues challenged the planetary diet based on flaws in the methodology used for health estimates.[11] However as pointed out by Walter Willett, the three different methods that were used to estimate the number of preventable deaths among adults were published independently of the EAT-Lancet Commission with a detailed methodology.[12]


The cost of this diet is less than what some people spend now, and more than what other people can afford.

The planetary diet was challenged by Adegbola T. Adesogan and colleagues in 2020 who wrote that sustainability-oriented diet plans, such as the planetary diet, do not solve the problems of the women and children who are currently too poor to regularly eat meat, eggs, and dairy products, and whose health would benefit from introducing animal-source foods.[13]

Researchers from the International Food Policy Research Institute and Tufts University calculated that nearly 1.6 billion people, mostly located in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, could not afford the cost of the EAT-Lancet reference diet.[14][15]

A 2020 study found that the planetary diet is more affordable than the typical Australian diet.[16]

A 2020 comparison study found that there are agreements between the planetary diet and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The differences are in the recommended amounts of fruit, nuts, red meat, seeds, starchy vegetables and whole grains.[17]

A 2020 comparison study of the average Indian diet with the planetary diet found that the average Indian diet is considered unhealthy because of excessive consumption of cereals and processed foods with not enough protein, fruits, and vegetables.[18][19]


  1. "The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health". EAT. Retrieved 2019-02-08.
  2. "Lancet Commission Summary Report" (PDF).
  3. "Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems". The Lancet. 2019-01-16. Retrieved 2019-05-23.
  4. "Plant-Rich Diets". Project Drawdown. 2020-02-06. Retrieved 2020-12-05.
  5. Torjesen, Ingrid (9 April 2019). "WHO pulls support from initiative promoting global move to plant based foods". BMJ. 365: l1700. doi:10.1136/bmj.l1700. PMID 30967377. S2CID 106411182. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  6. "Countries That Consume the Most Eggs". WorldAtlas. 16 July 2018. Retrieved 2020-12-04.
  7. Anandan, Sanjevi (2019-08-23). "Study: India's meat and egg consumption very low". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 2020-12-04.
  8. Carrington, Damian (2019-01-16). "New plant-focused diet would 'transform' planet's future, say scientists". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-02-08.
  9. Nina Avramova (16 January 2019). "This diet could help save lives, and the planet". CNN. Retrieved 2019-02-08.
  10. "Why a planetary health diet probably won't save the world". 21 January 2019. Retrieved 2019-02-08.
  11. Zagmutt, Francisco J; Pouzou, Jane G; Costard, Solenne (2019). "The EAT–Lancet Commission: a flawed approach?". The Lancet. 394 (10204): 1140–1141. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(19)31903-8. PMID 31571598. S2CID 203463607.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. Willett, Walter; Rockström, Johan; Loken, Brent (2019). "The EAT–Lancet Commission: a flawed approach? – Authors' reply". The Lancet. 394 (10204): 1141–1142. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(19)31910-5. PMID 31571599. S2CID 203461418.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. Adesogan, Adegbola T; Havelaar, Arie H; McKune, Sarah L; Eilitta, Marjatta; Dahl, Geoffrey, E. (2020). "Animal source foods: Sustainability problem or malnutrition and sustainability solution? Perspective matters". Global Food Security. 25: 100325. doi:10.1016/j.gfs.2019.100325.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. Hirvonen, Kalle; Bai, Yan; Headey, Derek; Masters, William A. (2019-11-08). "Affordability of the EAT–Lancet reference diet: a global analysis". The Lancet Global Health. 8 (1): e59–e66. doi:10.1016/S2214-109X(19)30447-4. PMC 7024996. PMID 31708415.
  15. "Intended to help human, planetary health, EAT-Lancet diet too costly for 1.6 billion people". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  16. Goulding, Tara; Lindberg, Rebecca; Russell, Catherine Georgina. (2020). "The affordability of a healthy and sustainable diet: an Australian case study". Nutrition Journal. 19 (19): 109. doi:10.1186/s12937-020-00606-z. PMC 7528590. PMID 32998734.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  17. Blackstone, Nicole Tichenor; Conrad, Zach (2020). "Comparing the Recommended Eating Patterns of the EAT-Lancet Commission and Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Implications for Sustainable Nutrition". Current Developments in Nutrition. 4 (3): nzaa015. doi:10.1093/cdn/nzaa015. PMC 7053404. PMID 32154501.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. Sharma Manika; Kishore, Avinash, Kishore; Roy, Devesh; Joshi, Kuhu (2020). "A comparison of the Indian diet with the EAT-Lancet reference diet". BMC Public Health. 20 (812): 812. doi:10.1186/s12889-020-08951-8. PMC 7260780. PMID 32471408.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  19. Manika Sharma, Avinash Kishore, Devesh Roy, Kuhu Joshi and Khiem Nguyen. (2020). "Indian Diets Fall Short of Eat-Lancet Reference Recommendations for Human and Planetary Health". CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health. Retrieved 22 November 2020.
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