A hamburger a week, but no more—that's about as much red meat people should eat to do what's best for their health and the planet, according to a report seeking to overhaul the world's diet. Eggs should be limited to fewer than about four a week, the report says. Dairy foods should be about a serving a day, or less. The report from a panel of nutrition, agriculture, and environmental experts recommends a plant-based diet, based on previously published studies that have linked red meat to increased risk of health problems, the AP reports. It also comes amid recent studies of how eating habits affect the environment. Producing red meat takes up land and feed to raise cattle, which also emit the greenhouse gas methane.
The report was organized by EAT, a Swedish nonprofit seeking to improve the food system, and published by the medical journal Lancet. The panel of experts who wrote it says a "Great Food Transformation" is urgently needed by 2050. Overall, the diet encourages whole grains, beans, fruits, and most vegetables, and says to limit added sugars, refined grains such as white rice, and starches like potatoes and cassava. It says red meat consumption on average needs to be slashed by half globally, though reductions would need to be more dramatic in richer countries like the US. Co-author Walter Willett, a nutrition researcher at Harvard University, suggests people start thinking of red meat like lobster, "something that I really like, but have a few times a year." (A region famous for its healthy diet now has a serious child obesity problem.)