WWF develops sustainable diet plan

The WWF has launched a new sustainable diet that recommends people eat less meat.

The development of its Livewell diet is based on the UK government’s own nutritional guidelines and follows a report by the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health (University of Aberdeen).

WWF argues that “simple tweaks” to our daily diet can “improve national health, reduce the impact of our eating habits on the natural world and help the UK meet its targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions”.

The diet’s key recommendations are:

• Eat more fruit, vegetables and cereals – especially regionally grown varieties
• Eat less meat – both red and white – which it describes as ‘hotspots’ for environmental impact
• Eat less highly-processed foods.

WWF’s head of campaigns Colin Butfield said: “If we want to protect the species and forests that are at the heart of WWF’s work, then we have to fundamentally change our food system. The report gives a picture of a way of eating that is good for the planet and good for your health too. For some, it might even be cheaper. This is not a radical proposal — it’s a diet that contains meat or fish every day and that includes everything from chicken curry to macaroni cheese.”

“When you look at what we eat, it’s quickly evident that there are major overlaps between what’s healthy for the planet and what’s healthy for people. This is a win/win that should be exploited fully.

“By producing the Livewell plate, WWF hopes to stimulate constructive debate and catalyse action by government and retailers to promote sustainable eating habits. When you add up the costs to the environment, health services and to people’s wellbeing, it is astounding that this isn’t being tackled with more vigour.”

However, Butfield was also keen to point out that the Livewell diet does not equate to meat equals bad, vegetables equal good.

He added: “The debate on the environmental impacts of food has often been polarised around meat-eating versus vegetarianism. This is unhelpful. Certainly livestock is a hotspot in terms of environmental impact, but what we should be debating is sustainable versus unsustainable food choices. This is about balancing our diet, not necessarily eliminating foods.”

The Livewell diet also follows on from WWF’s 2010 Living Planet report, which found that demand for natural resources had doubled since 1966 and that we are using the equivalent resources of 1.5 planets.

For the full report visit www.wwf.org.uk/livewell2020.

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