Expect plant-based diets to feature heavily in any future roadmap for food sustainability. This is in part due to growing concerns around the land use requirements and carbon footprint of breeding livestock.

In his first round-up of sustainability news in 2020, Oliver Balch reports on the consequences of extreme weather events in 2019, a healthy eating plan for the planet, and nature-based solutions to office stress.

Expect plant-based diets to feature heavily in any future roadmap for food sustainability. This is in part due to growing concerns around the land use requirements and carbon footprint of breeding livestock. Meat production is credited with 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations-funded Food and Agriculture Organisation. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of this total relates to cattle, which are raised for both milk and beef.

Of increasing importance, however, are the health advantages of a more natural, plant-based diet. A new report by the World Health Organisation highlights the negative effects of the global shift towards heavily processed foods. Today, nearly one in three people suffer from at least one form of malnutrition: namely, wasting, stunting, vitamin and mineral deficiency, obesity or diet-related diseases. So claims a new policy briefing on the “double burden” of malnutrition by the World Health Organisation. The publication, which marks the last in a year-long series on the subject in The Lancet, notes that 462 million adults are currently underweight while 1.9 billion are either overweight or obese.

The success or failure of future sustainable food strategies will, to an extent, depend on market signals from consumers. If the rise in veganism is anything to go by, the signs here are positive. According to the Vegan Society, the UK now counts around 600,000 vegans (1.16% of the population), representing a fourfold increase over the past five years.

A study of Google search terms by the meat-free campaign group, meanwhile, reveals a seven-fold increase in interest in veganism over the same period. The Vegan Society calculates that a worldwide shift to plant-based diets could result in healthcare-related savings and avoided climate damages worth $1.5tn. Since 2014, half a million people in 178 countries have earmarked January to try out a vegan diet, according to the organisers of the UK-based campaign, Veganuary.

Any future roadmap, however, needs a clear picture of the departure point. To that end, UK food retailer Tesco is launching a new initiative with environmental group WWF to assess the environmental impacts of its most commonly purchased products.

Sydney’s famous New Year’s Eve firework display did little to alleviate the sombre mood of many Australians at the dawn of 2020. With temperatures unseasonably warm (on 19 December, the average temperature hit an all-time monthly high of 41.9C), bushfires have been ravaging much of the country for months, with New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia particularly affected.

Meanwhile, its government continues to prevaricate on climate mitigation measures, with the latest annual G20 Brown to Green report on climate progress from Climate Transparency putting Australia, along with South Korea and Canada, as the “furthest off track” in implementing their Paris Agreement commitments. Top of the G20 class are the UK and France, which have put their climate plans into law, with Germany not far behind.

According to a new study by UK charity Christian Aid, every populated continent experienced multiple freak weather events in 2019 that were aggravated by rising temperatures. The report lists 15 of the most alarming examples, with floods (in Argentina, Australia, Spain, Iran, the US, China and India) and tropical storms (in the US and Europe) featuring heavily.

Expect plant-based diets to feature heavily in any future roadmap for food sustainability. This is in part due to growing concerns around the land use requirements and carbon footprint of breeding livestock. Meat production is credited with 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations-funded Food and Agriculture Organisation. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of this total relates to cattle, which are raised for both milk and beef.

Of increasing importance, however, are the health advantages of a more natural, plant-based diet. A new report by the World Health Organisation highlights the negative effects of the global shift towards heavily processed foods. Today, nearly one in three people suffers from at least one form of malnutrition: namely, wasting, stunting, vitamin and mineral deficiency, obesity or diet-related diseases. So claims a new policy briefing on the “double burden” of malnutrition by the World Health Organisation. The publication, which marks the last in a year-long series on the subject in The Lancet, notes that 462 million adults are currently underweight while 1.9 billion are either overweight or obese.

The success or failure of future sustainable food strategies will, to an extent, depend on market signals from consumers. If the rise in veganism is anything to go by, the signs here are positive. According to the Vegan Society, the UK now counts around 600,000 vegans (1.16% of the population), representing a fourfold increase over the past five years. A study of Google search terms by the meat-free campaign group, meanwhile, reveals a seven-fold increase in interest in veganism over the same period. The Vegan Society calculates that a worldwide shift to plant-based diets could result in healthcare-related savings and avoided climate damages worth $1.5tn. Since 2014, half a million people in 178 countries have earmarked January to try out a vegan diet, according to the organisers of the UK-based campaign, Veganuary.

Any future roadmap, however, needs a clear picture of the departure point. To that end, UK food retailer Tesco is launching a new initiative with environmental group WWF to assess the environmental impacts of its most commonly purchased products. The Sustainable Basket Metric will assess popular foodstuffs against key sustainability criteria, such as carbon reduction, food waste and deforestation. The move is part of Tesco’s ambition to halve the environmental impact of the average UK shopping basket – a goal it hopes to achieve by 2030. Since 2016, the UK supermarket chain has reduced its direct greenhouse gas emissions by 31%. Tesco has committed to publish the results of its first assessment using the Metric early in 2020.

Original Source: Ethical Corporation

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