Our food choices can make a positive difference to people and nature –
improving our own health, the health of others, and the health of the planet.
But over-dependence on select foods, a lack of diversity in our diets and the continued consumption of unsustainably produced items have a harmful impact on nature.
Globally, our diets are too narrow. Even though more than 5,000 crops have been used for food historically, we get more than 50 per cent of our plant-based calories from just three crops. We get around 75 per cent of our total calories from just 12 crops and five animals. This lack of diversity in our diet causes a lack of diversity in nature, and also makes us less resilient to pests or diseases in our food supply.
Many people in middle-income and developed countries, and wealthier people in developing countries, typically consume more meat and other animal proteins than are required for nutrition alone, with adverse impacts on both human and planetary health. Much of this is unsustainably produced. Overfishing is threatening not just our fish stocks, but the entire ecosystems of oceans as many species are fished to critical limits or beyond. Too many of the crops we eat are grown on freshly-converted land and are not subject to agro-ecological practices which protect the health of soil and water – for future growing and for all the other benefits they supply, from carbon sequestering to providing drinking water.
We understand that healthy, balanced, diverse and sustainable diets will look different in different parts of the world, dependent on what food is available and culturally relevant. We also respect that people’s diets are heavily influenced by local cultures and individual choice so we would never be prescriptive in recommending what people eat. Instead, we've outlined a few tips to help you make more sustainable choices:
- Learn how you can switch to a more planet-friendly diet that's flexible, high on human health benefits, and low on environmental impacts.
- Check your national dietary guidelines and do your best to follow them
- Eat a wide variety of plant-based foods and ensure they make up a large proportion of your diet
- If you're not sure where to start, check out the Future 50 Foods report we've created in partnership with Knorr, which outlines a collection of diverse plant-based foods from around the world
- Look for trusted third party accreditations, or traceability information, which can help you understand where your food came from and how it was produced
- Opt for sustainably produced meat and fish - if you can't find a trusted certification ask your supplier if they know where it came from
- Avoid eating types of fish which are over-harvested – shellfish and molluscs are great alternatives