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

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

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Cranfield University
Cranfield is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.

The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health has 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 UK, we import more than 65% of our fruit 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 UK is likely to add to the water stress on these nations, unless UK eating habits change to fruit and vegetables that can be grown domestically. If we could switch the UK consumer from avocado to turnips, for example, then the impact on water resources 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 UK land use. A reduction in meat and dairy would release large amounts of UK grassland from livestock production 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 vegetable sectors. While challenging, this could be supported by policies to support alternative and multi-functional land use.”

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