Making plant-based diets a realistic and enjoyable option for all is the goal of a new project designed to promote healthy diets that are environmentally sustainable.
A multidisciplinary team of scientists at the Universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Oxford has received a £940,000 award from the Wellcome Trust for the three-year project investigating the potential of plant-based convenience foods in encouraging healthy, climate-friendly diets that are affordable, practical and compatible with modern lifestyles.
‘Food is responsible for over a third of all human greenhouse gas emissions and what we eat needs to change.
‘Changing diets is really hard, but this project will aim to design meals and diets developed by young women that are better for health and the planet as well as delicious and affordable.’
PROFESSOR PETE SMITH
Professor of Soils and Global Change at the University of Aberdeen
By taking a ‘big picture’ view of the complex driving forces behind dietary choices – including social and practical considerations – the team aims to come up with realistic options for plant-based diets that remove barriers to adoption.
The study will work with groups of young women to understand the complexities of their lives and how this dictates their diets, developing real-life scenarios to create compatible advice that encourages plant-based choices.
’Action needs to be taken to tackle climate change. Transitioning towards climate friendly diets requires people to reduce meat consumption and increase plant-based food, as meat has a high carbon footprint which contributes significantly to global warming.
‘While there is a growing trend towards plant-based diets, we know that changing diets is notoriously hard and this presents a barrier to meaningful change.
‘So the question we have to ask ourselves is how can we make healthy and climate-friendly diets that are appealing, practical and affordable – therefore giving them a good chance of success?
‘The strength of this project is that we are working with scientists from multiple disciplines including health and nutrition, climate science, psychology, social policy, and the creative arts to build healthy diets that consider the impact on the planet and health and have broad appeal.
‘This interdisciplinary approach is essential as we have to look at the big picture instead of taking a one-dimensional view of the issue.’
PROFESSOR JENNIE MACDIARMID
Project lead, University of Aberdeen’s Interdisciplinary Director for Health Nutrition and Wellbeing