Following a healthy and sustainable diet

The European Food Information Council recommends the following steps for individuals wishing to achieve a healthy and sustainable diet:

  1. Consume less
  2. Waste less
  3. Reduce consumption of animal products in favour of plant-based foods

These steps are mentioned as the three pillars of a sustainable diet

  • There are global trend towards overconsumption, despite hunger still being prevalent around the world.
  • Overconsumption results in overweight and obesity, and unnecessary demand for increased production of crop and livestock with the associated environmental impact. 
  • Lowering our overall energy intake could benefit the health of both the environment and the population.
  • About 88 million tones of food discarded in Europe annually. 
  • Food waste occurs during all stages of the food chain, by producers, processors, retailers, and caterers.
  • Most part of food waste, about 53% in Europe, takes place at home (unnecessary waste of land, water, labour and energy, and futile contribution to GHG emissions).
  • If food waste was a country, it would be the third largest producer of CO2, trailing only the U.S.A and China!
  • Producing animal-based foods is more resource-intensive than plant-based foods, and has a higher environmental impact (e.g., land use, fresh water consumption, CO2emissions/tone of protein consumed). 
  • Choosing more sustainable animal-based products (e.g., poultry, sustainably-grown fish), reducing the consumption of animal-based products such as meat, dairy and eggs in general, and incorporating more plant-based whole products (fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes), are great steps towards a more sustainable diet.
  • Do not choose ultra-processed plant-based dairy and animal alternatives- despite their potential environmental benefit, they have may negatively impact health (see topic 2 on UPF).