Written by Brooke Brocklesby
At Oxygen Boutique, we all share a keen interest in nature, the planet and its produce. So, when we heard about a new diet that could potentially save the planet and repay our thanks, we couldn’t wait to try it out. For those of you who don’t know, the Planetary Health diet was designed by 37 scientists in a bid to reduce our impact on the planet, save lives and prepare for the growing population. It is based around reducing our meat, fish and dairy intake and increasing fruit, vegetable and wholegrain consumption. Your daily allowance of 2,500 calories would look something like the below:
Nuts - 50g a day
Beans, chickpeas, lentils and other legumes - 75g a day
Fish - 28g a day
Eggs - 13g a day (so one and a bit a week)
Meat - 14g a day of red meat and 29g a day of chicken
Carbs - whole grains like bread and rice 232g a day and 50g a day of starchy vegetables
Dairy - 250g - the equivalent of one glass of milk
Vegetables -(300g) and fruit (200g)
The diet has room for 31g of sugar and about 50g worth of oils like olive oil.
We were eager to give this new diet a try to find out how easy, practical and tasty it could be, so you don’t have to. With the daily guidelines not looking too far away from my usual diet and a love for vegetarian/vegan food, I thought this would be a breeze. But it turns out saving the planet isn’t as easy as it seems.
During my preparation for the diet, I quickly learnt three things:
1. Some next level planning and prepping is required
2. My scales will become my new ‘frenemy’
3. Variety is the spice of life
Armed with the healthiest shopping trolley you’ve ever seen, copious amounts of Tupperware and a positive can-do attitude, I began my week saving the planet one meal at a time.
Breakfast… Cardamom & Peach Porridge
Lunch… Chickpea Buddha Bowl
Dinner… Lemon & Pea Orzo
Porridge is one of my favourite breakfasts. So, I kicked off the week with a fragrant fruity version that went down a treat. For lunch, my Buddha (Tupperware) Bowl was full of flavour, texture and plant-based protein to fuel my body. At 2:00pm, I became a victim of an energy slump, which was soon solved by a handful of raspberries and cashew nuts. Then to finish my first day, dinner consisted of a fresh tasting orzo dish along with a large helping of greens on the side. With day one done, I felt optimistic for the coming week.
Breakfast… Carrot Cake Overnight Oats
Lunch… Mackerel Pasta Salad
Dinner… Sweet Potato & Kale Curry
Cake for breakfast? Suits me! The overnight oats were easy to prepare and to my surprise tasted like real carrot cake. I was also surprised how much food weighed too. I worked out it would make more sense to ‘bank’ my meat and fish portions for the week rather than enjoying a morsel a day. So, I used my weekly fish allowance in a mackerel pasta salad that gave me a hit of healthy fats, wholegrains and vegetables. As a huge fan of sweet potato (and curry), my dinner was well received. Again, I added a side of greens to up my vegetable intake. Admittedly a piece of naan bread may have slipped onto my plate – but who can blame me?
Breakfast… Cinnamon French Toast
Lunch… Apple, Walnut & Goat’s Cheese Grains
Dinner… Honey Glazed Chicken with Lentil & Paprika Stew
Today I used my solitary weekly egg allowance for French toast topped with fresh berries, Greek yogurt, seeds and a drizzle of honey. A homemade quinoa-based lunch was tastier than I thought it would be, but I was definitely missing meat at this point. I realised I ate way more meat than I thought I did, and my taste buds noticed this too. Lucky for me I’d saved my chicken portions for this evening with a gorgeous hearty lentil stew. I noticed I savoured and enjoyed the chicken so much more than usual, rather than eating it mindlessly. Was this diet changing the way I ate meat?
Breakfast… Avo Berry Breakfast Bowl
Lunch… Quick Quinoa Salad
The Avo Berry Bowl had to be one of my favourite meals this week. The addition of avocado helped me reach my green food goals and a spoonful of peanut butter on top pleased my sweet tooth. However, four days in and I never want to see a pair of scales again. Weighing everything is time consuming and a boring affair but it is so easy to go over the diet’s guidelines, so I kept at it. I whipped up a quick salad with yesterday’s leftover quinoa; partly to avoid waste and partly because I felt like I’d spent the entire week in the kitchen. Before I crumbled over excessive weighing and kitchen cook-offs, burgers came to my rescue. The diet allows for one small burger a week and I was more than ready for it. I served them with a wholemeal bun, corn on the cob and plenty of greens. This meal saved me (and my carnivorous fiancé) from meatless madness.
Breakfast… Cacao Porridge
Lunch… Burrito Bowl with Chipotle Black beans
Dinner… Roasted Red Pepper Pasta with Green Beans & Peas
Today I was back on the porridge. This time I added my trusty companion, cacao. For lunch, I wanted something with more ‘oomf’ and my deconstructed burrito in a bowl gave me exactly that. Like most of the week, any hunger was put to bed with healthy snacks such as fruit and nuts. My whole wheat pasta dinner was filling and wholesome with a mandatory side of the green stuff. Although I was enjoying the challenge of cooking new meals, the diet was much more restrictive than I ever imagined. With the weekend on the horizon, I was looking forward to not having to rush around prepping food for work.
Breakfast… Turmeric Latte
Lunch…Cheesy Toast with Grilled Tomatoes & Watercress
Dinner… Hoisin Vegetable Stir Fry
An AM boxing class meant breakfast had to be light. I used dairy-free milk for most of my breakfasts, including my latte, to save my dairy allowance for other uses (such as my cheesy toast lunch). My Saturday night dinner hosted plenty of fresh al dente vegetables and whole wheat noodles. By this point, my scales had (not literally) gone out the window. I figured as long as the majority of my meal was vegetables and I mixed up my type of wholegrains and legumes then I’d be just fine. With one day left to go, my week on the Planetary Health diet had nearly come to an end and had given me plenty of food for thought.
Breakfast… Sunday Morning Pancakes
Lunch… Lemon, Garlic & Green Bean Pasta
Dinner… Moroccan Vegetable Skewers
What better way to finish off my week of saving the world than with pancakes? I made them with gram flour, aka chickpea flour, for an extra kick of protein and topped them with banana, yogurt and peanut butter (no palm oil or added sugar). Lunch was filled with good, wholesome carbohydrates and of course, vegetables. Before I knew it, my last supper was due. I cooked vegetable skewers and I loved them. It meant my diet had finished on a high and I was happy with that.
Would I continue the Planetary Health diet? Not exactly…
I have weighed, learnt, and cooked A LOT over the past week. Would I adopt this new diet full-time? I hate to say it but unfortunately not. I love the driving force behind the Planetary Health diet, but I found it too strict. However, while I won’t be sticking to it word for word, I will be making conscious choices influenced by my time on the diet. For me, following the general idea of the Planetary Health diet (reducing meat consumption and food waste while eating more fruit and vegetables) would be easier and more practical rather than taking its portion sizes as law. But I would encourage anyone to give it a go, or at least try to incorporate some features from this diet into theirs. If you can keep it up, I salute you. If you can’t, join me in retrieving the scales out of the bin.