There are myriad factors that determine what we eat: taste, cost, convenience, culture, education, weight management goals, disease risk, etc. In addition, do you ever consider the impacts of your food choices on “planetary” health? After all, without our wonderful planet Earth, there would be no wonderful you or me! Before you slap your forehead and exclaim just how complicated food choices are, do you think it’s possible that one “diet” could satisfy your needs as well as those of Mother Earth? The answer is, unequivocally (and refreshingly), yes! It’s called the Mediterranean Diet.
A while back (October 2013) my colleague Jamie wrote about the human health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet (MD): “The modern MD is high in beans, whole grains, fruit and vegetables, fish and nuts, and low in red and processed meats, added sugars and saturated fats with moderate alcohol consumption. Studies have consistently shown that this dietary pattern is associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and may also decrease the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.”
Research studies from the field of ecological sustainability indicate that that the Mediterranean Diet is good for the planet, too. In short, agricultural production of beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables utilizes significantly less energy and generates significantly fewer greenhouse gases than production of meat. For a detailed analysis of these data, check out this report from the Environmental Working Group.
The Double Pyramid
The personal and ecological health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet are nicely summarized in the graphic below. Created by the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition, the Double Pyramid shows that what’s good for us is also good for the planet.
Food for Thought
Were you already aware how detrimental meat production can be for the planet? Take this quiz offered by the Environmental Working Group to shed further light on the issue. Then, after the quiz, consider what modifications you could make to your diet that would be “doubly” beneficial for both you and the planet.