Nutrition Researchers: With the Planetary Diet, you eat healthily and sustainably

Interview with Malte Rubach: Nutrition researcher: With the planetary diet you eat healthily and sustainably

It is possible to eat healthy and climate-friendly without making any sacrifices, says nutritionist Malte Rubach. In an interview he explains how it works, why meat substitutes are overrated and tap water is underrated.

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FOCUS Online: Mr. Rubach, when it comes to healthy or climate-conscious eating, most people think first of the things they should no longer eat. In your experience, to what extent does this deter people from changing their diet?

Malta Rubach: This is not only discouraging, it is actually counterproductive. Derogation or prohibition rules are usually only short-lived when it comes to nutritional issues. Unlike diets, where people have confirmation of success, at least in the short term, by not eating certain foods, there is no measurable personal success in climate-conscious nutrition for decades. Other than that, diets are usually not successful in the long run. In the end, it only helps to make well-informed and relaxed food choices.

About the expert

Dr. Malte Rubach is a nutritionist and author. Among others, he published “Die Ich-Nutrition”, “Ecobalance in the plate: How we can protect the climate with our food” and “Magic Eating: How to organize your fridge, change your eating habits and live healthy” .

But which ingredients, foods and drinks are actually taboo if I want to eat healthy and climate-friendly?

Rubash: There are no taboo foods, whether in terms of health, climate or environment. The nutritional recommendation called ‘Planetary Health Diet’ or planetary nutrition from an international team of scientists can provide guidance.

It does not exclude any food if it is consumed in sufficient quantity and if it is of local origin as far as possible. For example, you could consume up to 600 grams of meat and 3.5 liters of milk per week or just legumes, nuts and vegetables instead. Since in Germany we can produce sufficient quantities of foods of animal origin all year round, they are an important factor in the basic food supply. In other regions it may still be different.

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What small dietary changes that are easy to implement in everyday life have a big effect?

Rubash: This can be said relatively well for Germany if we compare the planetary diet recommendations with our current diet. Men should halve their meat intake and in general we can eat a little less processed grains, dairy products and sweets. Instead, a little more vegetables and legumes as well as vegetable oils. Another important factor are our drinks. The recommendation here is: more tap water instead of bottled drinks.

Organic meat or vegetables are often much more expensive than non-organic variants, and taxes on meat and sugar are also being discussed. How much more does it cost to eat healthily and climate-wise?

Rubash: Basically, we would need to invest about twice as much in our diets if all of the environmental and health damage costs of our current diet were included. However, as I said, both are also about quantity. Eating less overall and taking into account the recommendations of planetary nutrition or the German Nutrition Society would already help.

Learn more about food

What do you think of the meat substitute trend?

Rubash: Meat substitutes are nothing new. Tofu was in use no later than the 9th century, but it was not marketed as a meat substitute. First and foremost, it’s a heavily marketing-driven trend that promises more than it delivers.

Especially in the context of the current global food shortage, the raw material base for meat and milk substitutes will decrease, because these can also be consumed completely and more quickly directly in the form of beans, peas or of cereals. It will remain a niche, but especially in wealthy regions where financial leeway is important for individual development.

What stumbling blocks on the path to sustainable healthy eating should everyone be aware of – and how can they be avoided?

Rubash: In fact, the biggest stumbling block is too much dietary advice. Many ideological and scientifically based recommendations are mixed here. This creates confusion and distracts from the simple first steps.

Drastic dietary changes are never helpful, small steps are. For example, first observe your own meat consumption per week, then consciously make sure in the future that you do not buy more than 300-600 grams per week. As a next step, observe your own alcohol consumption and, if possible, replace some of the bottled drinks with tap water. So you can progress step by step.

Book advice: “The ecological balance sheet on the plate” (advertisement)

How we can protect the climate with our food – Malte Rubach

You have devoted a book to “life cycle analysis on the plate”. How has your research changed your own behavior?

Rubash: I started eating more local and seasonal foods or drinking tap water long before that. My research has rather confirmed that a balanced and varied diet without ideological prohibition rules is sustainable and healthy.

What aspect of the research surprised you the most?

Rubash: The influence of drinks. In the sustainability analyzes of our food, drinks are often not taken into account, only solid foods. This is of course not correct, because as a result beverages represent the largest share of all food, directly after meat, in terms of greenhouse gases, energy consumption and land use. of our food.

Webinar with Malte Rubach

  • There’s more nutritional advice from Malte Rubach in her March 31 webinar on FOCUS Online. Secure your ticket here!

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