What is food consumption’s share of delivering the Paris Agreement? Can the Livewell approach include additional environmental metrics – such as land use and water footprint? What can a healthy, sustainable diet look like in 2030? Can we develop a Livewell Plate for the elderly? And, what about a vegan Livewell Plate?
These are some of the questions addressed in the new Livewell report released earlier this week: Eating for 2 degrees – new and updated Livewell Plates. Here are seven things you need to know.
1) Simple changes to our diet can help reduce our carbon footprint by 30%
By following a Livewell diet in the UK we can reduce the carbon footprint of our food system by 30% from 1990 levels by 2030. This is a suggested food consumption related share of our national carbon reduction target for 2030.
2) To achieve this, we need to eat more plants
There are between 250 000 and 300 000 edible plants in the world, yet we get 75% of our food from only 12 species. The Livewell Plates show we can fill our plates with this wonderful food. We need to eat more legumes, nuts, roots and tubers – and fruit and vegetables of course.
3) And we need to moderate how much animal protein we eat
Producing a kilo of pork creates 31 times as much carbon dioxide than producing a kilo of potatoes. And we have an insatiable appetite for meat, eating 70% more protein than recommended by nutritional guidelines. All the Livewell Plates show a decrease in cheese and meat – processed, white and red.
4) The Livewell Plates illustrate what a healthy, sustainable diet can look like in 2030
We’ve expanded our new Livewell Plates to cover different nutritional needs. In addition to our Plate for adults (18-64) we’ve also created Plates for adolescents (10-17), the elderly (65-84) and vegans (18-64). All these Plates meet the nutritional and environmental requirements used for the report – the Eatwell Guide, carbon reduction, water use and land footprint.
5) So by following a Livewell diet, we can all help the UK deliver the Paris Agreement
The target set for this report reflects the UK’s fifth carbon budget recommended by the Committee on Climate Change. Meeting our carbon budgets is essential for ensuring we deliver the Paris Agreement’s commitment to keep the global average temperature rise below 2 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels. We felt it was important that the updated Livewell Plates reflected the UK’s carbon budget which are driving progress towards delivering this landmark agreement.
6) It can even help reduce the impact the food system has on our land
Apart from global warming, loss of biodiversity is the other major global environmental concern addressed in this report. This is closely linked to the conversion of land being cleared for agriculture. So, our model works on the basis that adopting the Livewell Plates won’t bring an increase in land converted for agriculture. We also investigated whether the Plates could reduce the impact of freshwater consumption.
7) But, we do need to do more to go well below 2 degrees or reach the aspirational 1.5 degree target
The Livewell Plates illustrate the minimal dietary changes needed to reduce consumption related emissions in line with a 2 degree target.
In order to go well below 2 degrees or achieve the aspirational 1.5 degree target, we’ll need even stronger environmental targets and nutritional guidelines, as well as farming and business engagement. We need specific and ambitious emission targets for the food system, healthy eating advice that incorporates sustainability, a centralised and integrated food policy, farming and processing strategies aimed to increase fruit and veg consumption, and retailers and food service commitments to increase products that include fruit and veg.
We welcome the opportunity to work with key stakeholders from all areas of the food sector to define the boundaries of a sustainable food system which enables people and nature to thrive.
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