[17 January/Dairy Reporter]

The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, and Health has published a report, Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. The report delivers the first full scientific review of what constitutes a healthy diet from a sustainable food system, and which actions can support and speed up food system transformation. The report consolidates research from 30 world-leading scientists across the globe to reach a scientific consensus that defines a healthy and sustainable diet. A universal healthy reference diet, based on an increase in consumption of healthy foods (such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts), and a decrease in consumption of unhealthy foods (such as red meat, sugar and refined grains) provides reported major health benefits. It also increases the likelihood of attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. The largest prospective study of vegetarian diets concluded people following vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or semi-vegetarian diets had 12% lower overall mortality risk than omnivores. The report notes optimum calcium intake remains uncertain, although overall and cardiovascular mortality is likely to decrease if dairy foods are replaced with nuts and other plant sources of protein. It argues that consumption of unsaturated plant oils conveys lower risks of cardiovascular disease than dairy fat. On sustainable production, the authors state that many studies have assessed environmental effects of various diets, with most finding decreasing effects with increased replacement of animal source foods with plant-based foods.