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How we will eat in the future (and why it’s so important for our health and the planet)

We've been talking a lot recently about the impact that our food choices can have on the planet. Mostly we focus on the things to reduce our intake of (such as red meats) or ways to promote planet-strong choices (such as delicious plant-based recipes that advocate using locally sourced ingredients).

But what is the ideal balance to strike between sustainability, taste and cost? What will the "2050 diet" look like?

Here at 1 Million Women, we recommend that anyone considering making changes to their diet should conduct their own dietary research and also seek appropriate medical or other professional advice to ensure they are making healthy food choices with the required nutritional balance.

With that in mind, let's look at what we will be munching on in 2050!


It's not just about meat

As Simon Lamey so eloquently put in this article, "This is not about turning us all vegan; this is about finding a sustainable diet for each person on this planet from now to 2050."

Of course, meat consumption DOES play a part in all this, as we've explored in these articles:

Check out why these schools are going meat-free
How reducing the consumption of animal products benefits the environment

Eating less meat has also been show to positively affect your health. A report from Chatham Housefound that on average, people in industrialised countries such as Australia and the US eat twice as much meat as is deemed healthy by experts. This is leading to an increase in diseases such as obesity and type-2 diabetes.

Putting it into perspective

One of the challenges for change makers is trying to communicate the impact our food has on the planet in ways that are meaningful.

The infographic below is an awesome example of how this can be done: comparing food consumption to the number of miles you could drive in a car!

For our non-American readers, 4oz is equivalent to just over 100 grams, and a mile is 1.6km!

Drink up you milk (but in smaller quantities)

As well as changing patterns of meat consumption, environmentally friendly diets rely less on dairy.

According to the New York Times, "dairy consumption jumped 32 percent from 1990 to 2005, and is expected to rise an additional 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2050, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization."

Cattle pollute with their burping (seriously), so reducing your dairy products consumption can help cut CO2. But make sure you always watch your nutritional requirements too.

In our awesome Carbon Challenge, we've assigned a 'campaign carbon value' of 150kg a year for one person reducing dairy consumption by the equivalent of 2 glasses of milk per week. This is a conservative interpretation of our research into the carbon savings available in this area, with other respected sources estimating savings at up to 250kg a year for two glasses of milk per week per person, and 10,000 litres or more of water.

Read more: Are non-dairy milk alternatives sustainable?

Palm oil

We have to admit that we're not big fans of palm oil here at 1 Million Women (although we are currently researching claims that some brands and sources are sustainable). You can check out all of our articles on palm oil here, but here's the essential info:

Palm oil production drives massive deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia, damaging habitats for orangutans and contributing to climate change through gigatonnes of CO2emissions.

The orangutan populations have diminished by 50% in just 10 years, largely as a result of the palm oil industry. According to the World Wildlife Fund, 300 football field sized areas of land are cleared every hour to make way for palm oil plantations, killing at least 3000 Orangutans each year.

Palm oil is also VERY hard to avoid. Around 50% of packaged supermarket products contain palm oil.

What you can do: Avoid palm oil where possible. Using tools such as the Palm Oil Barcode Scanner app will make this much easier!


How is your food packaged?

As well as the food itself, a planet-strong 2050 diet should reject wasteful packaging.

Opting for glass jars or cardboard packets makes your waste recyclable, which is awesome if you live somewhere like Sweden or Japan where recycling is really taking off!

But even if your local area is neglecting efficient recycling, you can still make a difference by giving up the 4 items that are most likely to be non-recyclable.

Final thoughts

Making a small change is better than making no change at all. Even if you can't go vegan, or can't live waste-free, try to cut your dairy consumption, or at least give up plastic bags.

Every action counts. Let's inspire each other to move towards a healthier, more sustainable way of living!

Hungry for more? Check out these 5 articles that will help you to eat healthier, more sustainable food!

[Images: Shutterstock]


1 Million Women is more than our name, it's our goal! We're building a movement of strong, inspirational women acting on climate change by leading low-carbon lives. To make sure that our message has an impact, we need more women adding their voice. We need to be louder. Joining us online means your voice and actions can be counted. We need you!


Steph Newman Former Social Media Assistant Suggest an article Send us an email

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