Why are diets not sustainable?

What are sustainable and healthy diets and why are they important?

A food is considered sustainable when during its production the environmental impact has been reduced, natural resources are not depleted and biodiversity is respected. Taking into account which foods are included in the diet has an impact not only on people’s health but also on the planet.

Although food is the final product, the goal is to achieve a food industry that is sustainable at all stages of the chain, i.e., from production to consumption, including packaging, transportation and sale. Sustainable supply chains seek a balance between economic profit, social welfare and respect for the environment. This ensures good practices, product traceability and fair conditions for producers, intermediaries and consumers. More and more companies and department stores are incorporating sustainable measures into their supply chains or purchasing programs.

Sustainable diets fao

Precisely on the occasion of Food Day at FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, they want to highlight the role of #FoodHeroes and emphasize the effects that our actions have for the future. The slogan Grow, nourish, preserve. Together is along the same lines.

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The food pyramids, of which there are different versions, focus on highlighting those foods that from a nutritional perspective should be the basis of our diet, those that we should eat more frequently, as opposed to those that, less healthy, we should consume only sporadically…. But if we look at the criterion of respect for the environment, things change, as we see in the image of the Barilla Foundation, which shows those foods whose production leaves a greater footprint on the environment, whose consumption we should limit, and those that have less impact on the environment, which we should consume more.

In addition, the problem is that 60% of the proteins we consume are of animal origin, with meat as a very relevant protagonist. It is estimated that on average we consume about 164 grams of meat per day, three times more than what is recommended.

What is sustainable and healthy eating

Balanced and sustainable diets are those that are not only nutritionally adequate but also generate less impact on the environment in terms of production and consumption.

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Taking this into account, what happens if we practice a lifestyle where we combine the intake of foods present in the Mediterranean diet with healthy habits such as physical activity and respect for the environment? Simple. We will be able to enjoy the benefits of balanced and sustainable diets.

Food and health are two concepts that go hand in hand. Everything we eat determines to a great extent our well-being, that of the people behind each food we eat and that of our planet. Why not take advantage of all its benefits?

It should not be forgotten that the food we eat is part of a production chain in which various actors are involved. Therefore, it is also the aim of balanced diets to contribute to social development, the reduction of poverty levels and the sustainability of ecosystems.

What sustainable diets protect

To reduce the impact that an activity has on its environment, it must first be calculated. Companies and organizations often resort to seals or labels that certify their commitment, while individuals have free online calculators that compute the Greenhouse Gases (GHG) they emit when they shop, travel, turn on the lights or turn on the heating.

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“The production and consumption of food carries a large environmental impact. To elucidate the quantification of this impact, there are two indicators we can use: the carbon footprint and the water footprint. The three sectors that contribute most to climate change are energy, food and transportation; therefore, a correct diet has important effects on the health of the planet. A 60% reduction in Greenhouse Gases (GHG), for example, on the global level would be excessive, but we could reduce up to 40%,” explains Gumersindo Feijoo, Vice Rector for Planning, Technology and Sustainability and Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Santiago de Compostela.