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Setting the Table: Advice to Government on priority elements of sustainable diets

Classification:Health, Food, Sustainable Consumption & Production
Document type:SDC Reports & Papers
Download:Setting_the_Table.pdf - 333 KB
Summary:imageOur food chain and dietary choices have huge environmental impacts, as well as affecting our health. Around 18% of UK greenhouse gas emissions are related to food consumption and production. And an estimated 70,000 premature deaths in the UK could be avoided if our diets matched nutritional guidelines.

Setting the Table: Advice to Government on priority elements of sustainable diets, commissioned by Defra, assesses the environmental and health impacts of changing patterns of food consumption. Our research found evidence that consuming only fish from sustainable stocks, eating more seasonal food, cutting out bottled water, shopping on foot or over the internet and consuming more wildlife-friendly, organic foods would also contribute towards a more sustainable diet. However, the most significant health and environmental benefits were from reducing meat and dairy, cutting food and drink of low nutritional value – including fatty and sugary foods – and reducing food waste.

Setting the Table calls for all food advice generated across Government to incorporate environmental considerations as well as health guidance, and for sustainability criteria to be incorporated into public sector catering standards. It also recommends further research on particular sustainability 'hotspots' – including meat and dairy, fish, soy and palm oil – and how different methods of production can affect sustainability.

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