World Food Day: Healthier Food Choices Can Help Us Solve The Twin Crisis Of Climate Change And Biodiversity Loss
- The global food system is one of the primary drivers of biodiversity loss
- Global shift toward healthier, more sustainable diets will help us combat climate change, reduce biodiversity loss, improve human health
- WWF’s Sustainable
Diets experts share top tips on what’s good for your
health and the planet
Budapest, Bratislava, Prague - 16 October 2022
Our global food system is one of the primary drivers of biodiversity loss, with agriculture alone being the identified threat to 22 500 of the 41 000 species at risk of extinction(1). Food production is not only the greatest cause of wildlife loss, but it also contributes to climate change: about a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food. And with the world’s population set to reach more than 9 billion by 2050, it’s clear that our food system needs to change – urgently.
On World Food Day, WWF reminds us that a global shift toward healthier, more sustainable diets will help us combat climate change and food insecurity (2), reduce biodiversity loss (3), improve human health (4,5), significantly reduce premature mortality *6), and help decrease the risks of future pandemics (7,8).
“What we eat matters. It matters to our own health and to our planet’s health as our food choices shape food systems - what is being produced, how and where. Transforming these food systems to sustainable and resilient ones will help us achieve progress on most of the Sustainable Development Goals, where we live and globally”, says Irene Lucius, Regional Conservation Director of WWF-Central and Eastern Europe. WWF, the global environmental organization has defined several “win-win” consumption patterns that can provide human health benefits and decrease environmental impacts:
Enjoy more fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. Meat, dairy and egg production is more water, land and greenhouse gas-intensive than plant production. By eating more plants - and less meat, dairy and egg products we reduce the impact of our diet on our planet.
Vary your diet
Eat a variety of foods. Globally we rely on a small range of foods. Seventy-five percent of the global food supply comes from only 12 plant and five animal species. Dietary monotony is linked to a decline in the diversity of plants and animals used in and around agriculture, threatening the resilience of our food system and limiting the breadth of food we can eat. These narrow diets don’t provide enough vitamins and minerals as well.
Nearly 570 million tonnes of the global food waste occurs at the household level (9). This means that we are also throwing away natural resources and money. Avoiding food waste in your home, planning your meals, smart shopping and good storing practices can be of help.
Moderate your meat
Enjoy other sources of protein such as mushrooms, peas, beans and nuts. Reliance on animal-based protein sources puts additional strain on our environment and current agricultural practices are not sustainable in the long term. Approximately 60 percent of the greenhouse gas emission of agriculture is due to animal agriculture. Meat, dairy, and egg production is more water, land, and greenhouse gas-intensive than plant production. It does not mean we will go without protein, as it’s found in many plant sources.
There are various standards you can find on food packets that make sure our food is sourced and produced sustainably. Logos to look out for next time you’re shopping include organic, Rainforest Alliance (for sustainable agriculture), Fairtrade (protecting farmers and workers in developing countries), Freedom Food (animal welfare), MSC* and ASC (Marine stewardship council and Aquaculture Stewardship Council, for seafood), and RSPO (Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil).
less fat, sugar and salt
Keep food such as cakes, sweets, and chocolate as well as cured meat, fries and crisps to an occasional treat. Choose water, avoid sugary drinks. Cultivation of sugarcane and sugar beet causes soil erosion and is often associated with intensive use of water and pesticides. New sugar plantations are replacing natural habitats, leading to biodiversity decline. More information on how to adopt a planet-based diet can be found on the WWF-CEE platform “Good for you, good for the planet”.