Scientists in London say they have found the best diet for both humans and the planet.

If the world followed the so-called “planetary health” diet, the scientists told Reuters that each year more than 11 million early deaths could be prevented.

For the health of the planet, they claim the same diet would reduce greenhouse gases and save more land, water and animals.

This new food plan is the result of a three-year project organized by The Lancet health journal. It involved 37 experts from 16 countries.

Tim Lang, a professor at Britain’s University of London, co-led the research. He told Reuters, “The food we eat and how we produce it determines the health of people and the planet, and we are currently getting this seriously wrong.”

Lang added that the world’s population is expected to grow to 10 billion people by 2050. If we want to feed everyone, he explained, we all need to change what we eat and the way we eat by “improving food production and reducing food waste.”

The scientists who created this diet say it is largely plant-based but still has small amounts of dairy, fish and meat. The diet calls for cutting red meat and sugar by 50 percent and doubling the amount of nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes.

Food situations around the world are not equal. In certain areas, this would mean great changes. People in North America, for example, eat 6.5 times the recommended amount of red meat. On the other hand, people in South Asia eat only half the amount suggested by the new planetary health diet.

Meeting the targets for vegetables would need big changes in other areas. In sub-Saharan Africa, people on average eat 7.5 times the suggested amount of vegetables like potatoes and cassava.

Walter Willet of Harvard University in the United States also talked to Reuters about the planetary health diet. He said that more than 800 million people around the world do not get enough food while many more have very unhealthy diets.

The scientists admit their goal will be difficult to achieve. But for them doing nothing is also not an option. Willet said, “If we can’t quite make it, it’s better to try and get as close as we can.”

Exercise 1


Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.

diet /ˈdʌɪət/ – n. the food and drink that a person or animal usually takes

  • There are many concerns with eating diets high in animal fat.

greenhouse gas – n. any of various gaseous compounds (such as carbon dioxide or methane) that absorb infrared radiation, trap heat in the atmosphere, and contribute to the greenhouse effect

  • Methane is also a greenhouse gas, meaning that its presence in the atmosphere affects the Earth's temperature and climate system.

journal /ˈdʒəːn(ə)l/ – n. a periodical dealing especially with matters of current interest

  • Her work was published in newspapers and journals as well as her books.

legume /ˈlɛɡjuːm/ – n. any of a large group of plants (as peas, beans, and clover) with fruits that are pods which split into two parts

  • Your best sources of fiber are bran cereals, whole-wheat bread, legumes and oatmeal.

cassava – n. a tropical plant with thick roots that are used to make small white grains (called tapioca) that are used in cooking

  • Rice, cassava, and sweet potatoes are the chief food crops.


Exercise 2


Answer these questions about the article.

1. How could the “planetary health” diet help the Earth?

2. Who created the “planetary health” diet?

3. What kind of foods are included in the diet?

4. Is the food situation the same in all parts of the world?


Exercise 3

Make a sentence.

Make sentences using these words.

diet, greenhouse gas, legume, cassava, journal


Exercise 4


Have a discussion on following questions. 

1. What do you think about the planetary health diet?

2. Would you consider changing your diet in the future? Why/why not?

3. What do you think the food of the future will be like?

4. Do you have a healthy diet?



This lesson is based on a news article originally published by VOA.