By Stephanie Stahl


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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new report says our civilization is in crisis if people don’t start cutting back on eating red meat. The report comes with a diet that would protect our health and planet.

An international panel of experts called for a transformation in the way we eat and their plan is designed to save lives and the world we live in.

Americans currently consume more than six times the recommendation for red meat, even though cattle are one of the biggest culprits in producing greenhouse gas.

“Our goal is to define a pathway whereby we can feed 10 billion people who will inhabit earth by 2050,” said Dr. Walter Willett, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Scientists say civilization is in crisis, but our diet can be the solution.

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A new report suggests a radical change in the way we eat is needed, starting with strict limits on red meat.

“It corresponds to roughly one fairly good-size hamburger per week,” Dr. Willett said. “Or if you like a big juicy steak, once a month.”

Dr. Willett is part of a team of scientists reporting for the Lancet Health Journal.

The diet overhaul proposal is designed to protect future generations — and the planet — by promoting better health.

It says by the year 2050, global consumption of red meat and sugar should be cut in half, and that people should eat twice as many nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes.

The guidelines cut dairy to one serving a day, and fish to two servings per week.

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For some cultures, the recommendations would overturn generations of tradition.

“I welcome them, because they’re important in recognizing the links between health of our populations and health of the planet,” said Alan Dangour, a professor at the Londo School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “But they may indeed be quite difficult to roll out across the world.”

Scientists say it will be worth the sacrifice, saving the environment and preventing 11 million premature deaths each year.

The report addresses two issues: health and the environment.

The health of people — billions are hungry or malnourished — and 2 billion are overweight or obese.

The diet changes would address that and also reduce the impact of livestock, which is blamed for a lot of pollution.

Stephanie Stahl