Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Consumption and diets

The type, quantity and formats of foods we eat vary considerably over time and space. A person’s consumption of food is rarely a matter solely (or even largely) of personal conscious choice. Instead, it is affected by such wide-ranging factors as cultural identity and taboos, food availability and price, genetics, legislation, technological innovation and marketing campaigns. Governments and civil society organisations have long been promoting healthy diets to reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases both at a global and national scale and the concept of ‘sustainable healthy diets’ – diets that have lower environmental impacts but fulfil nutritional requirements –  is very slowly gaining ground.

Image: Ella Olsson, Hummus Dip, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
4 November 2019

This feature from the Guardian newspaper explores why veganism attracts hostility from some commenters. The piece suggests that opposition to veganism can be driven by concerns about malnutrition and fear of loss of personal freedom, and may also be linked to certain ideas about traditional gender roles.

4 November 2019

This op-ed by FCRN member Mia MacDonald and Judy Bankman, both of US think tank Brighter Green, argues that affordable, accessible, sustainable and healthy diets for everyone can only be achieved with the commitment of everyone, including policymakers, industry influencers, city planners, local business owners and consumers.

4 November 2019

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have published this set of guiding principles for sustainable healthy diets, aimed at policymakers.

Image: Engin Akyurt, Stir fry noodles in bowl, Pexels, Pexels License
22 October 2019

In this opinion piece in the Guardian newspaper, Jess Fanzo and Mario Herrero argue that food producers, consumers and governments all need to make changes to help reduce the climate impact of the food system. 

22 October 2019

This book questions whether the rising demand for meat is indeed driven mainly by wealth and argues that the consumption of cheap meat is linked to economic insecurity. It also questions the view that the modern human brain evolved because of the consumption of meat.

22 October 2019

The book chapter Why sustainable plant-based diets are needed to reverse the food-climate-health-equity crisis by FCRN member David A Cleveland, part of the book Plant-based diets for succulence and sustainability, argues that plant-based diets are a key part of the response to the interlinked crises in food, climate, health and inequality.

2 October 2019

An audio recording of the 2019 Mansholt Lecture, organised by Wageningen University & Research, is available. The lecture, which took place on 18 September 2019, discussed the challenges of future protein production and consumption, including protein from plants, animals and microorganisms.

Image: Max Pixel, Lamb Rosemary Eat Lamb Chop, CC0 Public Domain
2 October 2019

FCRN member Anna Birgitte Milford of the NIBIO (Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research) has co-authored this paper, which studies the impact of various variables on meat total meat and ruminant meat consumption levels (both total and ruminant) in 137 countries. The paper assesses factors which had previously not been used together in similar analyses, including economic, cultural and natural factors (e.g. land availability and climate).

Image: DanaTentis, Sardine Pesce Fresco, Pixabay, Pixabay License
2 October 2019

This paper models the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and water footprints of both baseline consumption patterns and nine different healthy diets that prioritise plant ingredients for 140 countries. The authors find large differences in GHG and water footprints between countries, with vegan, two-thirds vegan or “low food chain” (including insects, molluscs and forage fish) diets generally leading to the greatest footprint reductions.

Image: nil2hoff, Birds rainforest birds, Pixabay, Pixabay License
18 September 2019

This paper models the global land use change implications of three different dietary scenarios up to the year 2100: business as usual with a continued shift away from pulses and starchy roots and towards animal products; a 95% global reduction in consumption of ruminant products compared to business as usual, with ruminant products to be replaced by cereals, pulses, starchy roots and oilcrops but other meat types to be consumed as in business as usual; and a 95% reduction in consumption of both ruminant and monogastric products. 

22 July 2019

This opinion piece in The Hill by Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director at the Centre for Biological Diversity, argues that the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (which is reviewing the guidelines for their 2020-2025 edition) is strongly influenced by the food industry and that the committee will not be allowed to conduct a full review of the evidence on questions such as food sustainability.

22 July 2019

The World Resources Institute has released its full and final report on “Creating a sustainable food future”. The report addresses the question “Can we feed the world without destroying the planet?”, specifically asking whether the food system can feed nearly 10 billion people adequately by 2050, without expanding the area of agricultural land, and while avoiding dangerous levels of climate change.

Image: Pxhere, Avocado cherry tomatoes, CC0 Public Domain
22 July 2019

FCRN member Gesa Biermann of Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich has co-authored this paper, which analyses trends on a popular German recipe website, finding annual growth rates of 16% in vegetarian recipes and 3.5% in vegan recipes between 2005 and 2018. 

Image: Public Domain Pictures, Slices Of Bread On A White Background, CC0 Public Domain
22 July 2019

FCRN member Peter Alexander has co-authored this paper, which finds that incremental improvements in several areas of the food system (including production efficiency, reducing food waste and changing diets) could reduce agricultural land use by between 21% and 37%, depending on adoption rates. 

4 July 2019

This annual report from Menus of Change, a joint initiative by The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, provides guidance for the foodservice sector on how to choose menus and select ingredients in ways that are beneficial to health and the environment.

3 June 2019

A jury-style event hosted by the UK’s Food Ethics Council finds that a meat tax is too simplistic. The event saw four “expert witnesses” give evidence on the impacts of meat and sugar taxes, the environmental impacts of grazing livestock, and the health impacts of consuming processed and ultra-processed meat.

Image: USDA, Fruit bar pick, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
3 June 2019

Organic charity the Soil Association is calling for the UK government to introduce a mandatory meat-free day each week for school catering to tackle climate change and increase fibre intake, noting that few schools currently follow the voluntary plant-based day recommended by the current School Food Standards.

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