A warming world brings risk of more extreme weather events, acidified oceans, regional biodiversity collapse and the disruption of established farming systems, which our now-crowded planet depends upon. Beyond these symptoms of climate change, our profligate use of land and other resources, and the pollutants produced in the process, pose several other environmental threats: deforestation and habitat loss, mass species extinction, freshwater scarcity, widespread pollution, and ocean eutrophication. Alongside energy production, industry and transport, the agricultural system is a major, and often the dominant, contributor to these challenges. In this report we make the case for a global shift towards more sustainable (and healthier) diets. Though impacts vary greatly between regions and production processes, at the global scale this is principally about reducing our consumption of ruminant meat (beef and lamb) and dairy. That said, the 12 strategies presented in this report could equally be applied to other high-impact products such as palm oil.
The ideas in this report are borne from the latest and most well-evidenced behavioural science, and offer routes through which governments, retailers, producers, restaurants, campaigners and others can all help deliver a more sustainable food system. The authors also discuss some of the political challenges that come with such an agenda, and consider how best to understand and build public support for strong policy. For many reasons, this is not an easy challenge to address. But we think it’s an important one that deserves more discussion, more research, and more action.