FRC in collaboration with the Eating Better alliance recently hosted a roundtable bringing together civil society organisations and academics from public health, environment, social justice and research perspectives to consider opportunities and activities to build support for achieving sustainable dietary guidelines for the UK.
There is strong evidence from health, environmental and social justice perspectives of the need to shift food consumption onto more sustainable pathways. A first step towards this goal is the need to integrate environmental considerations into official healthy eating dietary guidelines. Yet in the UK, unlike a number of other countries, there is currently no policy commitment to update the EatWell plate for sustainability.
We were delighted that Prof Mike Hamm, C. S. Mott Professor of Sustainable Agriculture at Michigan State University and expert sustainability advisor to the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee – which recently recommended inclusion of environmental criteria within the US dietary guidance – was able to join us and share his experiences from the US. Mike outlined the US process (enshrined in law) to update dietary guidelines (My Plate) every five years.
This included a robust process for assessing scientific evidence. The simple message from this research is that diets with less meat and more plant-based foods are healthier for people and the planet. The guidelines were open for public consultation though it is unclear what the outcome will be. There has been opposition from the meat industry in particular to the inclusion of environmental criteria though this has galvanised considerable civil society support (eg MyPlate, MyPlanet). Final guidelines are due to be published by the end of the year.
FRC and Eating Better will be collaborating to build awareness and support among public health policy makers of the co-benefits for health and the environment of healthy sustainable eating patterns.