Shift to planetary health diet would impact UK land use and global water resources

January 18, 2019, Cranfield University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health has today released a 'planetary health diet', that advocates a radical shift in dietary habits.

Commenting on the effects on water resources of the proposals in the EAT-Lancet report, Professor Tim Hess, Professor of Water and Food Systems at Cranfield University, said:

"In the U.K., we import more than 65 percent of our and vegetables, often from highly stressed water environments such as Spain, Morocco and South Africa. A large-scale increase in fruit and vegetable consumption within the U.K. is likely to add to the stress on these nations, unless U.K. eating habits change to fruit and vegetables that can be grown domestically. If we could switch the U.K. consumer from avocado to turnips, for example, then the impact on would be minimal.

"It is undeniable that we need to eat more fruit and vegetables, but we also need to have a much greater awareness about where our food comes from and the impact it has on the environment."

Commenting on the effects on land use of the proposals in the EAT-Lancet report, Dr. Adrian Williams, Reader in Environmental Systems at Cranfield University, said:

"From our previous work, with similar dietary changes, the adoption of this diet would mean a significant change in U.K. land use. A reduction in meat and dairy would release large amounts of U.K. grassland from and increase the need for more cropland. This could possibly be achieved by the conversion of rotational grassland areas.

"The impact would also extend to agricultural revenues, with large drops in revenue in beef and sheep sectors and increases in revenue for fruit and sectors. While challenging, this could be supported by policies to support alternative and multi-functional land use."

Explore further: A major new report has developed a global diet that could improve health and reduce further damage to the planet

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