February 07


By Joost Esser

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Here we go again… another day another diet. But wait and sit back. I am here to tell you that you are probably already following this diet unintentionally. And that our future is going to look a lot better if we can persuade more people to join. 

First off what is a Planetary health diet? 

It’s very similar, if not the same, as a flexitarian diet. For the most part it contains out of plants but you can als incorporate small amounts of fish, meat and dairy (only when produced locally by small-scale farmers). Further more there is a strong focus on whole foods, unsaturated fats and as little processed foods as possible.

The Planetary health diet was originated in 2015 as a solution for climate change. This planet friendly diet aims for the survival of the human population. Sir David Attenborough, surely the most famous voice of Britain is a strong advocate for the Planetarian health diet. He recently said mankind must stop eating meat for the good of the planet because the meat industry is a leading cause of climate change. It is said to be worse for the planet than the oil industry. Well there you have it.

Do people know that their diet has a big impact on the health of our planet?

Yes they do! And most of us have known that for a long time. In fact, 72% of the Dutch want to eat fewer animals and more vegetable proteins. And that this hasn’t actually lead to a lower meat consumption is probably only a matter of time. Researcher Laura van Heck has articulated this painful contradiction very well. “Thinking is different from doing”.

There is an important role for government in speeding up this proces. Most Dutch consumers would support government measures that will tax the consumption of animal products. Not sure where our cabinet is waiting for?!

Losing biodiversity

By now most of us understand the strong correlation between animal agriculture and climate change. But what most people don’t know is that animal agriculture is the strongest driver behind the rapid loss of biodiversity. And yes this is a big problem because it directly determines our chance of survival. This global issue is best explained by this illustration from Marcel Horck, writer and imker.

Since 2050, we have grown from 2.6 to 7.8 billion people, with an equal number of mouths to feed. It’s safe to say that feeding all these people (and their livestock) has increased the demand for food dramatically. And with that the production pressure per 1m2 of agricultural land. Keep in mind that 70% of the world's food is still produced by small-scale farmers. This means that a higher harvest (yield) doesn’t necessarily means you need more farmland. We just have to make beter use of the land, cities and oceans that are at our disposal.

People and companies have started hopeful initiatives all over the world. So no matter how dark things may seem it is certainly not unthinkable that we will find our way back.

  • There is a movement that works with nature instead of against it. Food forests and regenerative agriculture are great examples that want to increase biodiversity while producing amazing food.

  • Every day there are food tech companies that are discovering ways in which we can increase food production. Vertical and indoor farming are famous examples that also lower the footprint of the harvest because because they are hyper local. An inspiring example is the “30 by 30” initiatieve, Singapore wants to grow at least 30% of there food within their city by 2030.

  • And then there are collectives like de Herenboeren. They have fixed the most urgent problem of farming. They turned/restored farming (a job without a real future) into a noble and fulfilling craft. In a nutshell; one farmer works for 200 families. He/she get’s a guaranteed salary, which enables to focus on the quality of the crop instead of finding a market and trying to stay afloat.

Tiny tweaks can make a major difference!

  • Do what you can when you can

  • Try to eat local and with the seasons

  • Try to cut back on meat and dairy as much as you can muster

  • Avoid products from the intensive livestock farming such as factory farming 

There is only one planet earth. And despite what Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos may think. Becoming a planetarian is a lot easier, effective and more fun than moving to Mars.

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