Food science professor outlines low-impact dietary choices

Sustainability on the menu

Food science professor outlines low-impact dietary choices

January 18, 2019

Even our diets can have lighter footprints. Fergus Clydesdale, distinguished professor of food science, talks to Chowhound about how to make food choices with fewer environmental impacts. Clydesdale directs the Food Science Policy Alliance, where he presses for policy decisions based on science, and to make nutritious and safe food available to all. 

From How to Eat a More Sustainable and Nutritious Diet: 


The original definition of sustainability is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” according to the landmark 1987 Brundtland Report put together by a U.N. commission, cites Clydesdale. Sustainability comprises a myriad of factors: greenhouse gas emissions, non-renewable energy and minerals, freshwater consumption, land use, ecosystem quality, waste, and nutrition. 

Based upon these factors, general recommendations for a more sustainable diet include replacing animal protein with plant protein, eating a nutritious diet, and reducing waste. With instruction from Clydesdale, a prototype sustainability and nutrition-focused diet by Nestle called the LiveWell diet (presented at the 2015 International Life Sciences Institute annual meeting) and United States Department of Agriculture research, we’ve put together a guide for eating more sustainably.  

Sustainable eating

One of the most effective ways to make your diet more sustainable is to increase your protein intake from grain products, vegetable products, and dairy. “The growth of plants use less input [food, water, land and energy] than animals,” explains Clydesdale. “Certainly legumes and grains in terms of getting protein are better sources of getting protein than animals environmentally.” 

Top image: The Movement Menu via Chowhound 

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