Traditional diets offer healthy, sustainable inspiration

Current diets high in red meat and sugary, processed foods are harming the planet’s resources, Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said on a January 2020 episode of the podcast Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg. But he added that looking to diets of the past can offer hope and inspiration.

As the primary author of last year’s EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems report, Willett calls for global cooperation and commitment to shift diets toward healthy, largely plant-based patterns; make large reductions in food loss and waste; and implement significant sustainability improvements in food production practices.

He said on the podcast, “The good thing is that we have a variety of diets around the world, and the first thing is to look at the traditional cultural diets that people evolved with, identify the best part of those diets, and then tweak the rest of them to be even healthier and more sustainable.”

Read Foodtank coverage or listen to the podcast: We’re Too Close to the Edge of Planetary Boundaries, Says Walter Willett