A new diet for healthier people, healthier planet

With the world’s population expected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050, obesity on the rise, and environmental sustainability in question, experts say that eating more vegetables and fruits and less red meat could help both people and the planet.

At a daylong conference in February titled “Food, Farms, Fisheries, and Forests,” public health, conservation, and social justice experts from across New England discussed how best to feed the growing population.

In a February 20, 2020 Harvard Gazette article about the conference, Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that while the expected response would be to increase food production, doing so with our current diet would likely lead to increased obesity rates and greater greenhouse gas emissions. But shifting toward a predominantly plant-based diet could improve our own health and minimize our carbon footprint, he said.

Willett’s recommendations are based on findings from a January 2019 report from the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. Willett co-chaired the Commission three years.

Willett also discussed the challenges of feeding the growing population in a February 19, 2020 podcast on Economist Radio.

Read the Harvard Gazette article: Food that’s better for all of us and the planet

Listen to the Economist Radio podcast: Can the world feed 10bn people by 2050?