Published: 24 February 2023

Eating for Two: A Diet to Benefit Both Your Health and the Planet

By Ali Niklewicz (ANutr), Postgraduate researcher, University of Surrey, STAR Hub contributor 

STAR Hub Homepage

The EAT-Lancet Commission report is a landmark scientific report published in 2019 by the EAT Stockholm Food Forum (1) in

The Lancet medical journal, titled: The EAT-Lancet Planetary Health Diet (2). The report provides a scientific framework for a healthy and sustainable “Planetary Health Diet” that can help address the global challenges of malnutrition, obesity (over-nutrition), and environmental degradation. It recommends a dietary pattern based on whole grains and plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and unsaturated oils. It also suggests limits on animal-based foods, refined grains, added sugars, and highly processed foods, as shown in Table 1. With a goal of fostering a thriving and sustainable food future, the Commission endeavours to provide valuable insights that will guide informed policies, cutting-edge research, and effective industry actions with consideration of a whole systems food approach.

Table 1 - Scientific targets for a planetary health diet, with possible ranges, for an intake of 2,500 kcal/day.


Macronutrient intake

grams per day

(possible range)

Caloric intake

kcal per day

Whole grains

Rice, wheat, corn and other


Tubers or starchy vegetables

Potatoes and cassava



All vegetables



All fruits


Dairy foods

Whole milk or equivalents


Protein sources

Beef, lamb and pork

Chicken and other poultry





14 (0-28)

29 (0-58)

13 (0-25)

28 0-100)

75 (0-100)

50 (0-75)






Added fats

Unsaturated oils

Saturated oils

40 (20-80)

11.8 (0-11.8)


Added sugars

All sugars

31 (0-31)


(Source:…, 2019, p.10)

(Source:…, 2019, p.9)

The high(er) cost of the recommended diet has also been a point of contention. A global study (7) estimated the affordability of the Planetary Health Diet and found that, whilst the diet may cost a small fraction of the average income in high-income countries, the cost of the diet would exceed household per capita income for at least 1.58 billion people globally. 

In response to the aforementioned criticisms, the EAT Forum has recently commissioned the EAT-Lancet 2.0 (8). The updated version aims to include “several new elements such as a greater focus on diversity and the adaptation of regional and local diets, strengthened diversity in the composition of the Commission and a new focus on food justice and social food system goals. The report will be released in 2024 and will evaluate multiple transitional pathways to a healthy, sustainable, and equitable food future, using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) modelling framework. A global consultation will also be conducted to promote local endorsement and adoption of the recommendations.

Despite its shortcomings, the EAT-Lancet Planetary Health Diet remains a widely recognised and respected guide for promoting sustainable and healthy dietary habits. The Diet is the first to recognise the importance of sustainable agricultural practices as a whole food system approach to help mitigate the negative impact of food production on planetary and human health. Many matters arise when considering the issue of affordability and inclusivity of this diet, particularly during the current cost-of-living crisis in the UK. Some of these concern the suitability of the recommended diet for diverse at-risk groups and the position of policy to make sustainable food affordable and accessible. Despite the changing circumstances of the world, we live in, the report's primary message remains the same - that it is necessary for humanity to reduce their consumption of animal products, increase their intake of plant-based foods, and prioritize sustainable agriculture in our food choices.

Read the EAT-Lancet Summary Report (PDF)


  1. EATforum [Internet]. EATforum
  2. Willett W, Rockström J, Loken B, Springmann M, Lang T, Vermeulen S, et al. Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. The Lancet. 2019 Feb 2;393(10170):447–92.
  3. Verkerk R. EAT-Lancet – is there such a thing as ‘one- size-fits-all’ sustainability? Journal of holistic healthcare [Internet] (PDF). 2019;16(3). 
  4. Zagmutt FJ, Pouzou JG, Costard S. The EAT-Lancet Commission’s Dietary Composition May Not Prevent Noncommunicable Disease Mortality. J Nutr. 2020 May 1;150(5):985–8.
  5. Hatcombe Z. The EAT-Lancet diet is nutritionally deficient [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2023 Feb 20].
  6. Torjesen I. WHO pulls support from initiative promoting global move to plant based foods. BMJ. 2019 Apr 9;365:l1700.
  7. Hirvonen K, Bai Y, Headey D, Masters WA. Affordability of the EAT-Lancet reference diet: a global analysis. Lancet Glob Health. 2020 Jan;8(1):e59–66.
  8. About EAT-Lancet 2.0 [Internet]. EAT. [cited 2023 Feb 20].

To return to the STAR Hub homepage click here.

Related content