This commentary poses practice and research questions about the nutrition and environmental consequences of the increased production and intake of ultra-processed plant-based meat and dairy substitutes. Their commentary reflects upon results from a study also reviewed on this website: Gehring J, Touvier M, Baudry J, Julia C, Buscail C, Srour B, et al. Consumption of Ultra-Processed Foods by Pesco-Vegetarians, Vegetarians, and Vegans: Associations with Duration and Age at Diet Initiation. The Journal of Nutrition. 2020;151(1):120-31.
This study assessed the intake of ultra-processed foods (UPFs) and unprocessed foods within a group of meat eaters and vegetarians (pesco-vegetarians, vegetarians, and vegans) in France. The nutritional quality of the plant-based foods was also assessed, as well as the determinants of UPF consumption for the vegetarians.
The authors provide an overview of the changes in global aquaculture from 1997 to 2017 through a review of relevant literature. Aquaculture refers to the practice of breeding, growing, and harvesting fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants.
This paper compiles existing research to provide an ambitious review of four questions: i) how projections of global diet transitions translates into an increasing impact on human and environmental health; ii) how transitions to healthier diets can advance environmental targets; iii) how shifting to healthy diets might contribute to sustainable food systems in four dissimilar countries (using case studies); iv) steps that governments and business can take to advance sustainable and healthy diets.
In addition to the results comparing the climate impacts of the two systems of meat production, this is of particular interest to Dietitians-Nutritionists who desire a deeper understanding of the differences that varying climate change metrics make on measuring the impacts of food production. The authors compare cultured meat and beef system emissions on climate change. Rather than using the typical warming impact measurement of carbon dioxide equivalent comparisons, they use an atmospheric modeling approach. Three different consumption scenarios are predicted up to 1000 years in the future.
Relevant to most dietitian-nutritionists interested in food systems sustainability, this articles examines life cycle assessment studies to compare the environmental impacts* of different: agricultural production systems, agricultural input efficiencies, and foods. This includes (but is not limited to), an analysis of grass-fed and grain-fed beef; trawling and non-trawling fisheries; and greenhouse grown and field produce. Eighty-six % of the publications were from highly industrialized systems in Europe, North America, and Australia and New Zealand. Though authors support that plant-based foods have the lowest environmental impacts, the results illustrate that environmental impacts of agricultural production systems are different depending on which systems, food, and environmental indicators are examined.
Relevant to most dietitian-nutritionists trying to better understand the sustainability of meat alternatives, this article compares the environmental impacts of different meat substitutes. Multiple environmental impacts were measured, and assessed by weight (kilograms), energy (kilojoules) and protein (grams). The authors estimated impacts from the stage of raw resources to (including) consumer use.
This study uses a social cost-benefit analysis to estimate the impacts of three scenarios - a 15% and 30% tax on meat, and a 10% subsidy on fruit and vegetable consumption – for the year 2048 (30 years hence) in the Netherlands. This article is relevant to dietitian-nutritionists in most practice areas who have an interest in public policy options for shifting dietary patterns toward more sustainable.
Based on dietary data from Dutch nationals with high GHGe diets, the study authors create scenarios to recommend potential changes that would result in lower GHGe. They suggest that their study is novel, as dietary changes are based on the specific time period with the greatest potential GHG emission reductions. For example, as it is known that the majority of meat consumption occurs at dinner time, recommendations to decrease consumption focus specifically on this time period. This article is relevant to Dietitian-Nutritionists interested in climate-friendly dietary guidance.
This article is of relevance to almost all Dietitian-Nutritionists, as it provides insight into the health vs. environment co-benefits and trade-offs dialogue. It integrates nutritional epidemiology and food system science methods to evaluate the relationship between diet quality and environmental sustainability, while also taking food loss and waste into account. This study is unique to previous studies in that it assesses individual, self-selected diet patterns (I.e., what people actually eat), instead of theoretical diets that follow specific dietary recommendations (e.g., national guidelines or vegetarian diets). Further, it examines environmental impacts beyond climate change.
An important paper for dietitian-nutritionists working on public health policy that supports sustainable diets, this paper explores examples of sustainability-integrated dietary guidelines. The authors argues that considerable international experience now exists on evidence-based sustainable dietary guidelines, allowing for an analysis of successful policy approaches.
This study reports on findings from a multinational survey examining health professionals’ views of climate change as a human health issue. The study asked about health professionals’ views and engagement with the issue, and systematically characterized both the barriers to climate change advocacy perceived by health professionals, and resources that may address those barriers. The article is worth a ready by all Dietitians-Nutritionists working to address climate change, and in particular managers, educators, and those working within professional associations.
This article shares perspectives about how educators can use online learning to develop systems thinking for future food systems professionals. Included are links to training webinars (recordings) and teaching materials. This article is highly relevant to Dietitians-Nutritionists working in education settings.
This article describes a framework for action describing how Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) and Nutrition and Dietetics Technicians, Registered (NDTRs) can integrate work on sustainable food systems into their profession - individually, as a profession, and in collaboration with other sectors. It is relevant to Dietitians-nutritionists interested in a systems approach to integrating sustainability into their work.
This study examined patterns of protein-related recommendations within food based dietary guidelines. They then explored how these patterns are related to specific contexts and social priorities of the countries. The authors propose that strong incorporation of sustainability principles into FBDG would help to legitimize the shift toward sustainable diets within society. They suggest that protein recommendations are a crucial component of shifting toward a sustainable diet,. This article is most relevant to Dietitians-Nutritionists working in policy development or research related to food based dietary guidelines.
This article discusses the role of public health nutrition, including the role of Asia-Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health (APACPH) in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (2015-2030). The authors argue that Public Health Nutrition is crucial in achieving the SDGs, and have outlined how nutrition relates to each the 17 SDG goals. This article is highly relevan to public Health Dietitian-Nutritionists working in middle to low-income countries who are interested in deepening their understanding of the relationship of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to nutrition and dietetic practice.
This study investigated the associations between sustainable dietary patterns and overweight and obesity in French adults. The results suggest that people who adopt highly sustainable dietary patterns sustainable diets may have a lower risk of weight gain, overweight, and obesity than those who do not adopt these behaviours. It is relevant to Dietitians-nutritionists working in community, clinical or food service settings.
In this study, researchers examine the relationship between the number of organic foods consumed in relation to consumer values. It is relevant to Dietitians-Nutritionists interested in shifting client intake toward organic food.
This study investigated the size and scope of literature, and the processes and roles related to sustainable diet promotion within health care systems. Twelve appropriate studies were identified, and the data was used to develop a framework of the key elements needed to advance the promotion of sustainable diets within health services. This article is relevant to Dietitians-Nutritionists in the health care and education sectors.
This paper describes the development and adaptation of the School Meals Planner Package in Ghana. The package was developed by the Partnership for Child Development (PCD), based at Imperial College London and was piloted by the Ghana School Feeding Programme. It is relevant to Dietitians-Nutritionists working in school meal programs or other foodservice settings linking menus with local agriculture. Most relevant for low to middle income countries, particularly sub-Saharan Africa.
The purpose of this study was to measure the environmental impact of the Athlete’s Plate (AP) and to evaluate the influence of meal type, training load, gender and registered dietitian (RD), as well as provide general recommendations to make the AP more environmentally sustainable. As protein recommendations for athletes are almost double of those for non-athletes, there is a concern that western, active populations consume protein and in particular meat in quantities beyond required amounts. It is releveant to Dietitians-Nutritionists working with athletes and/ or highly active people.
This Dutch intervention study compared compliance with dietary recommendations that were of equal nutritional value, where one group followed a standard healthy diet, and the other a more environmentally sustainable/ plant-based diet. Two groups of female participants were assigned randomly, and they followed the diet for three weeks. All recommendations were sent electronically, and results were self-reported; the study was not done in a clinical setting. Researchers also examined drivers of eating behavior across food categories. This research article is relevant to Dietitians-Nutritionists working in public health, community and clinical settings, particularly for those working with individuals and groups on dietary choices and change.
This commentary type article uses a Māori perspective to examine the relationships between climate change and Indigenous health, and proposes implications for health promotion. This article is relevant to public health Dietitians-Nutritionists working in any type of health promotion. While based on the perspectives of the Māori (the Indigenous people of Aotearoa/New Zealand), the ideas are relevant to all working in climate action.
This research article explores an Australian study that compared plant-based meat substitutes that mimicked meat with equivalent meat products; it examined ingredients, nutrition information panel, health and nutrition claims, Health Star Rating (Australian), and any additional logos and endorsements. The study did not include traditional vegetarian meat alternatives such as such as tofu, tempeh, and falafel. This is relevant to public health Dietitians-Nutritionists working on government policy and Dietitians-Nutritionists in education and nutrition care.
This systematic review of 20 studies identified factors that influence health professionals’ practice of integrating sustainable nutrition into their work. Most studies (70%) focused on dietitians and were conducted in “Western” countries; systematic reviews or position papers were not included. The terms “sustainable nutrition” and “sustainable diets” are used interchangeably in the study. It is relevant to Dietitians-Nutritionists working in health-related institutions.
This research article explores the editorial comments on the collection of papers in the supplement issue of the Global Health Promotion Journal “Whenua Ora: Healthy Lands, Healthy Peoples” (2019). This is relevant for public health Dietitians-Nutritionists working in any type of health promotion and/or climate action.
This Australian study explored nutrition and dietetic undergraduate students’ self-reported views and actions related to sustainability, with a view to building a holistic curriculum that includes content and competencies required to address UN Sustainable Development Goals. This research article is relevant to dietetic and nutrition educators.
This research article consists of a systematic review of 80 studies across the globe examined: environmental and associated economic impacts of foodservice; outcomes of strategies that aim to advance environmental sustainability; and perspectives of stakeholder – across the hospital supply chain. This article is relevant to Dietitians-Nutritionists working clinical, administrative or food-service roles in hospitals, particularly for those working on policy development or menu redesign for sustainability.