Eating Better alliance member the British Dietetic Association (BDA) have said that environmentally sustainable diets are a win-win for the planet and health.
The BDA wants to play its part in helping people wake up to the impact of their diets on the environment.
UK dietitians are gearing up to take on a list of new recommendations from the BDA based on the latest evidence. One Blue Dot, launched today, is a new project from the BDA to show how nutrition experts can help people make essential changes for the planet – and the nation’s health.
Clinicians will be able to use the BDA toolkit to include environmental considerations in healthy eating advice, and to inform conversations with patients who are keen to make the shift, taking into account any medical issues.
Dietitians know all too well how poor eating habits affect health. Current low intakes of fibre, fruit and vegetables, and essential micronutrients compete with the overconsumption of energy, saturated fats, and sugars to undermine the health of the UK.
But as a raft of recent reports have highlighted, what we eat also has an impact on the planet. The current food system contributes up to 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, contributing significantly to global warming. When looked at through a wider lens, farming is the leading cause of biodiversity loss, the majority of fisheries are fully exploited, and we continue to needlessly waste billions of pounds worth of food every year.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made strong recommendations around dietary change just a few weeks ago, saying that urgent changes are needed if climate change targets are to be achieved.
Dietitian and working group member Ursula Arens says “Eating healthy is for you; environmentally sustainable eating is for your children and their children”.
The One Blue Dot nine point plan includes:
- Reductions in red and processed meat to 70g per person per day (also recommended by the World Cancer Research Fund).
- Prioritising plant proteins such as beans, nuts, soya and tofu.
- Consuming fish from sustainable sources.
- Moderating dairy consumption and using fortified alternatives where needed.
- Focussing on wholegrain starchy foods.
- Opting for seasonal, locally sourced vegetables/fruit. Avoiding air freighted, prepacked, and prepared vegetables/fruit.
- Reducing overconsumption of high fat, sugar, salt foods.
- Making tap water and unsweetened tea/coffee the choice for healthy hydration.
- Reducing food waste, especially of perishable fruit and veg by choosing tinned/frozen alongside seasonal fresh produce.
An extensive review of nutritional considerations has been conducted by BDA experts who have drilled down to macronutrient level to show that eating well can be compatible with eating for a healthy planet.