Today several types of research suggest that the production and consumption of food are not being done sustainably. With the world’s population increasing every year, projected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050, humans will have to produce much more food than ever before. However, if not done sustainably today or in the future, food systems will severely damage the environment and human health.
In terms of food production, the agricultural sector uses around 50 percent of the world’s vegetated land. It produces 25 percent of global emissions per year, contributing to global warming and climate change. If the Coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the global food system needs to become much more resilient to tackle the future crisis. Thus, it is necessary to encourage the production and consumption of eco-friendly and sustainable diets. Here are some ways to encourage sustainable diets:
Awareness: Awareness is the most simple and effective way to encourage sustainable diets. Most people do not know about the energy requirements or emissions generated in the food system. They are unaware of how their food choices impact the environment. Thus, it is necessary to create awareness among the global masses about the issues in the food system while highlighting the need to switch to sustainable diets. Individuals, organizations, or governments can create awareness through educational campaigns and discussions.
Nudging People in the Right Direction: Slight nudges can help steer people toward the correct behavior. For example, labeling a vegetarian meal or dish as the “dish of the day”, placing sustainable healthy foods by the check-out counter rather than unhealthy foods, increasing the availability of vegetarian dishes on a menu, etc.
Environmental and Carbon Labels: According to researchers, food labels affect people’s food choices by virtue of being an environmental labels. Environmental labels might encourage people to choose environmentally friendly food production. Such labels seem to have a positive effect on people’s food choices.
Visual Prompts: Visual prompts act as a reminder to people to engage in certain behavior. According to a few experiments, it was found that placing visual prompts like stickers on public waste bins reminding people to recycle their food waste increased the quantity of recycled food waste by 20 percent.
Social Norms: It refers to the concept that behavior is influenced by what other people do and think. Social norms related to sustainable and eco-friendly diets can help influence people’s behavioral choices.
Sustainable diets are growing as an interesting topic among several people due to global environmental awareness. Looking at the devastating impacts of global food systems on human and planetary health, it’s difficult to just sit back and ignore this issue.
Dr. Emily Greenfield is a highly accomplished environmentalist with over 30 years of experience in writing, reviewing, and publishing content on various environmental topics. Hailing from the United States, she has dedicated her career to raising awareness about environmental issues and promoting sustainable practices.