The Standard Australian Diet and how it is threatening both people and the planet.

In the last few years I have been diving deeper into our current food system,  and what I learned shocked me. The standard Australian diet (SAD) consists predominantly of processed foods that are devoid of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre, and are instead full of empty calories consisting of sugar, fats, additives and preservatives. Our bodies have not evolved to eat these types of foods so it is no coincidence that there is a rise in Type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke. 

In addition to this Australians are some of the world’s biggest red meat consumers in the world, averaging 565g every week and around 110kg per person per year! These eating habits are currently threatening both people and the planet.

As of January 2019, 37 of the worlds leading scientists got together with no input from the food and pharmaceutical industries and published the EAT Lancet Commission Summary Report in the Lancet Journal, one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, identifying what the healthiest diet is for humans and the planet. What they concluded is that the healthiest diet for you is also the healthiest diet for the planet. “This includes more than doubling the consumption of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts and a greater than 50% reduction in the global consumption of unhealthy foods such as added sugars and red meat.” [1] Their recommendation for red meat is just 14g per day (down from the average 80.7g/day). This will require a HUGE shift in the way Aussie’s eat.

Currently, only one in twenty (5%) adults meet the Australian Dietary Guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption [4]. This is a concern as plant foods are abundant in health promoting substances such as fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, non-haem iron and plant protein, and are free from saturated fats, refined sugar, haem iron, cholesterol, sodium, antibiotics and other toxins that are commonly found in animal products.

When you remove the conflicting industry-funded science and biased agendas, the science is clear. Eat more whole plant foods, and reduce your consumption of animal based foods. This will in-turn reduce excess weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammatory markers and prevent or even reverse cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, various cancers, obesity and more. Our bodies have a profound way of healing themselves when given the right environment and conditions. 

As our planet is currently threatened by climate change, focussing solely on diet and lifestyle without taking into account its environmental consequences is rather pointless if our planet is uninhabitable in the near future.

Studies have revealed that animal agriculture accounts for 24% of total global emissions [5], and livestock alone is said to be directly responsible for 14.5% of global emissions each year [3].

Agriculture is currently the fourth largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, responsible for 13% of Australian’s emissions. Two-thirds of agricultural emissions are the result of grazing beef and sheep.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 2013.

A systematic review found that higher consumption of animal-based foods was associated with higher estimated environmental impact, whereas increased consumption of plant-based foods was associated with an estimated lower environmental impact. Assessment of individual foods within these broader categories showed that meat – especially ruminant meat (beef and lamb) – was consistently identified as the single food with the greatest impact on the environment, on a global basis, most often in terms of GHG emissions and/or land use.

IPCC, 2019. Special Report on Climate Change and Land. Chapter 5: Food Security.

I think it is also important to consider what kind of planet we are leaving behind for future generations – one full of fear, greed, consumerism, chronic illness, climate destruction and violence, or one full of health, abundance, clean environments, compassion, love, freedom and harmony.


[1] Willett W, Rockström J, Loken B, et al. Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. Lancet 2019; 393: 447–492.
[2] IPCC, 2019. Special Report on Climate Change and Land. Chapter 5: Food Security. Available at:
[3] Gerber PJ, Steinfeld H, Henderson B, et al. Tackling climate change through livestock: a global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 2013.
[4] Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-2015. 
[5] Epa US, OAR. Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data,