The recent e-symposium Changing behaviour: From Policy to Table - Moving the Dial towards Healthy Sustainable Diets brought together leading experts to discuss why and how consumer behaviour needs to urgently shift towards a food system that is more in line with current national and international environmental policies.
All speakers were unanimous that for most middle to high income countries consumer behaviour with regard to dietary habits has shifted little towards being more environmentally sustainable. In fact, sizeable changes are needed with regard to our food choices, food production systems (from farm to fork) and food waste.
Dr Rosemary Green Associate Professor in Sustainability, Nutrition and Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine focused on why change is urgently needed. She provided an excellent overview of how our current eating habits significantly contribute to environmental instability and how far eating patterns need to shift in order for environmental policy targets to be met. As well as our dietary habits contributing to over a quarter of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Dr Green highlighted that they are also key drivers to other environmental burdens. The diagram below demonstrates the contribution our food choices, in particular livestock agriculture, have on five environmental systems.
Livestock is the undisputed largest dietary contributor and despite some reductions in meat and dairy intakes, further shifts are urgently needed if net zero carbon targets are to be met, biodiversity to be protected, water and soil quality to improve, oceans and waterways to be preserved.
As well as further reductions in meat and dairy, dietary recommendations should also focus on increasing intakes of healthful plant foods and reducing intakes of HFSS foods.
Dr Green concluded that for such shifts to become a reality, a combination of policy factors such as taxation and subsidies is required.
Cindy Schoumacher, EU police officer, European Commission: The European Green Deal, alternative proteins and dietary shift. CLICK HERE TO WATCH
Prof. Smits, KU Leuven: Persuasion and nudging towards healthier diets. CLICK HERE TO WATCH
Dr Laffan from the University of Dublin: Encouraging behavioural shifts towards sustainable diets: understanding intention behaviour gaps. CLICK HERE TO WATCH
Prof. Ikonen, University of Bath: Front-of-package nutrition labelling and healthy food choice. CLICK HERE TO WATCH
Dr Reynolds, City University London: Communicating the environmental impact of recipes - potential of apps and ecolabels. CLICK HERE TO WATCH
Dr Haines, University of Guelph: Promoting sustainable healthy eating among families – a focus on food waste. CLICK HERE TO WATCH