A healthy, planet-friendly diet

If you care about having nutritious meals, you certainly know that it doesn't end with lettuce and tomatoes. A well-composed healthy diet comes with an abundance and variety of flavours and products to choose from! It pays to know what to eat, so your diet is sustainable for you and the environment. Learn what a planetary health diet is, and you will be amazed how little it takes to prolong both - your and Earth's lives.

3 min read


Ksenia Pisera

Journalist, popularizer of knowledge about environmental and climate protection

Seasonality and locality are, in fact, crucial starting points when thinking about a planetary health diet. What matters is the availability and nutritional value of products available at different times of the year, in different places.

Research shows that the food system, i.e., the entire food production process, linked resources to consumption, is responsible for 1/3 of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s roughly ten gigatonnes of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. Plus, you have to take into account the fact that people waste 1/3 of this food. Then again, it’s worth looking at shopping, nutrition and food preparation as a powerful potential for CO2 reduction, which is crucial in climate change mitigation.

Just as, over time, it has enshrined in the public consciousness what to eat and what not for better health, the same awaits us in terms of what is less carbon-intensive as the world’s population is set to grow. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be up to 10 billion people. That’s two billion more than today. Changing the way we think about nutrition, therefore, faces everyone. As serious as it may sound, it can actually be easy and tasty. All you have to do is give it a go! One of the solutions being touted is a planetary health diet.

A planetary health diet – what does it involve?

The term ‘planetary health diet’ emerged into public discussion in 2019, thanks to a scientific publication prepared by the EAT-Lancet Commission’s international team of researchers “Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems.” The report states that such a diet should comprise 50% vegetables and fruits and 50% whole grains and plant-based proteins, unsaturated vegetable fats and optional modest amounts of animal-based proteins.

Seasonality and locality are, in fact, crucial starting points when thinking about a planetary health diet. What matters is the availability and nutritional value of products available at different times of the year, in different places. The shorter the journey of food from producer to plate, the lower the carbon footprint of transport. Better still, this choice supports the local economy and farmers.

If possible, consider whether your food has a verifiable organic certification. Indeed, it may be more expensive, but such a label is evidence not only of the high quality of the product but also of environmental care at the production place where, for example, natural instead of synthetic fertilisers are used. This is especially worth paying attention to when choosing meat. Eating meat less frequently but from a farm that adheres to exacting organic standards is better for the planet.

TerGo was still germinating as an idea when the EAT-Lancet Commission report was published. So today, we want to contribute to this discussion. Look out for the TerGo Carbon Neutral Certified label on the shop shelves. Such products are entirely carbon neutral! We calculate the CO2 value for each item and the number of TER carbon credits required to offset the carbon footprint in a given year. A product is carbon neutral when the correct amount of TERs has been purchased and used.

Planetary health diet – examples of products

Significantly, the planetary diet depends on where and what time of year we are. Seasonal and local products vary in different parts of the globe. In the recent World Economic Forum, an article on planet-friendly foods was published, and it lists seven crucial products. When seeking delicious inspiration, it is also worth looking at the WWF and Knorr report ‘Future 50 Foods: 50 foods for healthier people and a healthier planet. Both studies mention listed below seven products:

  1. Algae
    Algae are important to the planet as they significantly contribute to oxygen production and CO2 absorption, so their sustainable cultivation positively impacts the climate. In addition, thanks to their fatty acids and high vitamin and antioxidant content, they are very healthy. They can be added to dishes or dried and crushed to make condiments.
  2. Lentils
    The pea’s cousin requires little water to grow, and its carbon footprint is about 43 times smaller than beef’s. Lentils have dozens of varieties, each with a slightly different flavour, ranging from peppery to sweet. Lentils are rich in protein, fibre and carbohydrates.
  3. Fonio
    The Bambara people of Mali say that “fonio never brings shame to a cook” because it is so easy to prepare and can be used in dishes to replace any other grain. Above all, it is drought-resistant and can grow in sandy or acidic soils. Its roots help protect the topsoil to prevent the spread of deserts.
  4. Okra
    It is one of the world’s most heat and drought-resistant vegetables. It contains antioxidants, including beta-carotene and lutein, making it good for your health. Okra can be steamed, fried or grilled and pairs well with spicy condiments.
  5. Moringa
    It is known as the horseradish tree or… longevity tree. It contains vitamins A, B and C, calcium, iron and amino acids, and the leaves are plentiful and nutritious all year round. It can be added to tea, fried as a snack, and added to smoothies, curries and baked goods. Moringa is drought-tolerant, grows quickly, and forms a natural screen that prevents soil erosion.
  6. Spinach
    It grows quickly in colder regions and can be grown all year round. It is particularly rich in vitamins A, C and K and contains iron, other minerals and phytonutrients. Spinach leaves can be steamed, fried, and added to curries, soups, pasta dishes, and stews.
  7. Mushrooms
    There are more than 2,000 edible mushroom varieties in the world. They have an excellent taste and nutritional value, rich in vitamins B, D, protein and fibre. They can grow where nothing else grows – for example, on by-products from other crops. Their texture and umami flavour make them a tasty side dish and can work well as a meat substitute.

Planetary diet – just the way you like it!

There are plenty of reasons for choosing to eat more consciously – from wanting to improve health and keep fit to caring for loved ones. While it would seem that thinking about the planet, humanity, and the next generation is too much when shopping, it’s actually very simple. You only need to try it a couple of times, and it will become a habit soon!

The wealth of planet-friendly foods means you can enjoy various tasty meals that are good for the planet every day. If you want to know more ways to take care of the planet and the environment, read the TerGo blog. There you will find practical and proven tips! Together we can do more!