Diets link environmental and human health. Rising incomes and urbanization are driving a global dietary transition in which traditional diets are replaced by diets higher in refined sugars, refined fats, oils and meats. By 2050 these dietary trends, if unchecked, would be a major contributor to an estimated 80 per cent increase in global agricultural greenhouse gas emissions from food production and to global land clearing. Moreover, these dietary shifts are greatly increasing the incidence of type II diabetes, coronary heart disease and other chronic non-communicable diseases that lower global life expectancies. Alternative diets that offer substantial health benefits could, if widely adopted, reduce global agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, reduce land clearing and resultant species extinctions, and help prevent such diet-related chronic non-communicable diseases. The implementation of dietary solutions to the tightly linked diet–environment–health trilemma is a global challenge, and opportunity, of great environmental and public health importance.
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Extended data figures and tables
Extended Data Figures
- Extended Data Figure 1: Dietary composition. (120 KB)
The percentage of per capita total dietary protein (a) or calorie demand (b) that is met by each of ten food types is shown for each of five different diets: the global-average 2009 diet, the projected income-dependent diet for 2050, the Mediterranean diet, the pescetarian diet and the vegetarian diet.
Extended Data Tables
- Supplementary Data (215 KB)
This file contains numerous data sets used by Tilman and Clark. Each dataset is indicated by a letter (A to H) and has a descriptive title. See Methods for more details.