The Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), an independent body that advises the Government, has claimed that reducing meat and dairy in the diet will have significant health and environmental benefits and has called for all food advice generated across Government to incorporate environmental considerations as well as health guidance.
Tim Lang, co-author of ‘Setting the Table: Advice to Government on priority elements of sustainable diets’, said: “Our research found strong evidence of ‘win-wins’ in these areas, suggesting that a diet which is sustainable on multiple fronts – good for health, environment, social justice and economy – is possible.
“Cutting down on meat and dairy and eating only sustainably sourced fish, fruit and vegetables, would all help reduce the impact of our food system, as well as improving health.”
The SDC has recommended further research on particular sustainability ‘hotspots’, including meat and dairy, and how different methods of production can affect sustainability. It added that an estimated 70,000 premature deaths in the UK could be avoided if diets matched nutritional guidelines.
The report has been welcomed by charity WWF-UK, which also brought out a report over two months ago, calling for debate over meat consumption.
Mark Driscoll, WWF-UK One Planet Food programme head, said: “This is another impressive report, following on from the study in last month’s The Lancet, which makes the link between a healthy diet and a healthy planet. There can be no doubt that a definition for a sustainable diet should be a priority for Government.”
He added: “The Government has spent a lot of time and money raising awareness of food waste – which is important. However, we’d agree with the SDC’s conclusion that similar weight now needs to be put behind reducing meat and dairy consumption and the consumption of food of low nutritional value.”