2019, VOL. 5 ISSUE 1, PART C
The concept of sustainable diets is not new but it is now in limelight. Changes to more sustainable dietary patterns are needed to reduce environmental hazards. However, in doing so, nutritional, cultural, social and economic aspects also need to be considered. Sustainable diets are defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations as “those diets with low environmental impacts that contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations.
Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable, nutritionally adequate, safe, and healthy, while optimizing natural and human resources.”(1) Most studies support that there are environmental benefits if the consumption of fruits and vegetables is increased and the consumption of animal-based foods is reduced. Besides climatic changes, the effects of consumption of food can be seen in various other aspects of the environment, such as land use, water footprint, energy or fossil use. Other aspects of sustainability also need to be taken into account like social and economical, nutritional and health. Among the different scenarios a vegan diet-followed by a vegetarian diet, a diet replacing meat and poultry, and a “healthy” diet had the largest potential to reduce GHGE (Green house Gas Emission). It was concluded that there is a “need for a far more complete assessment of the environmental, social, and economic impacts of foods and diets.” A vegan diet followed by a vegetarian diet and a “healthy” diet-would result in the greatest improvement in land use demand. While a lower consumption of foods from animal sources may be more environmentally friendly. Additionally, from a nutritional, cultural, social and economic perspective, reducing or eliminating animal-based foods from our diets may not be the real solution. More research is needed to identify the dietary changes needed to achieve sustainable, healthy diets that are feasible and acceptable.