Universities should lead on the plant-based dietary transition

Jochen Krattenmacher, Paula Casal, Jan Dutkiewicz, Elise Huchard, Edel Sanders, Nicolas Treich, et al., The Lancet, May 2023

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the EAT–Lancet Commission have pointed out in recent reports, substantial reductions in demand for animal-based foods are vital for achieving climate targets and for keeping food production within planetary limits. One might expect universities to heed such findings and adjust their food procurement accordingly, especially since they contributed to the research on which these reports are based. However, one only needs to visit a typical university canteen to find that this is not the case. This routine observation is confirmed by studies that have found animal-based food to contribute disproportionately to the environmental footprint of universities compared with plant-based food, and substantially so.
Even when leaving aside the contribution of animal-based food production to climate change, the case for shifting to alternatives, mostly plant-based foods, remains strong. Although impacts differ between different animal products, most economically significant animal-based food production contributes disproportionately to multiple, often all, of the following predicaments: the degradation and overexploitation of ecosystems, misallocation of water and land, risk of pandemics, air and water pollution, and animal suffering. These are all issues that, we the authors assume, most academics and students do not want to contribute to unnecessarily. By procuring different kinds of foods, universities could achieve reductions in many of these negative effects. By doing so, universities could even save money. They also might promote healthier diets among their students and personnel, especially if they emphasise the healthiest kinds of plant-based foods….
[… Read more at The Lancet]



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