SDG2: Plant-rich diet and reduced food waste

After a whole day of driving, I was hungry. All I could think of was food. The feeling was immediately followed by a notion that very soon I would be home and not only I could eat but I would get to choose among different things that I like to eat. And then it struck me; What if I couldn’t? What if I had nothing to eat and had no way to find any food anywhere soon? It’s an awful feeling that 800 million people live with every day. And it is surely much worse than one long day. 

All of the SDGs are interrelated to some extent. Nevertheless, being central to human basic needs, food directly relates to all other goals. As such, finding solutions for this goal directly impacts many other solutions that are needed to fight climate change.  

Two solutions that are directly related to SDG2 stand high on the list of the ones needed to reverse global warming.

Both solutions are within our individual imminent reach!

  1. Increasing plant-rich diet

Even small shifts in our allocation of crops to animal feed and biofuels could significantly increase global food availability and could be an instrumental tool in meeting the challenges of ensuring global food security. (Cassidy)

  1. Reducing food waste

FAO (2013) estimates that each year, approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption in the world is lost or wasted. This food wastage represents a missed opportunity to improve global food security, but also to mitigate environmental impacts and resource use from food chains.

Despite being a caloric and protein-rich diet, reaching zero-hunger (and net-zero emissions) cannot be achieved through promoting meat consumption. Although the Green Revolution has dramatically reduced its prices we must not forget that:

  • The livestock economic sustainability relies heavily on state subsidies ($53 billion in 2013).

The environmental footprint of the meat industry is gigantic.

  • 75% of all agricultural land is dedicated to animal production.
  • Raising livestock accounts for 18-20% of global greenhouse gases emitted.

And if that is not enough to make up your mind then think about what would happen if, as estimated by current trends, an additional 40% of the world’s population shifts to more meat consumption by the year 2050.

The two solutions are a powerful way towards net-zero goals. By increasing plant-based diet and reducing food waste we can reduce more than 130Gt of CO2 (Global emissions in 2019 were 38Gt). That is why the best sustainably viable solution for reaching zero hunger is through shifting to a plant-based diet. By allocating the crop calories, currently used for feed and other uses to direct human, to human consumption, an additional 4 billion people could be fed (Cassidy). If on top of that we add preventing 1/3 of food from being wasted, there would be more than enough healthy food for every human being.

How do we get there? Well, perhaps playing on human consciences, through pointing out to the absurdity behind the fact that while there are 800 million people starving, 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, are overweight, and among them over 650 million are obese, may not work.

But, if instead of blaming and shaming, which has often provoked contrary effects, we emphasize the positive sides of shifting to a more plant-rich diet and reducing food waste, many could see the benefits of living healthier lives, reversing climate change, and having better economies.

Not many of the sustainable solutions, being promoted nowadays, are widely available. Not many of us can afford to drive an electric car, having solar panels, or living in smart buildings. But guess what, anyone can choose and use these two solutions. By choosing a plant-rich diet and reducing the amount of food that we waste, every one of us can do much more to reverse global warming. 

It saves the environment, health, and money! What more could you expect from good solutions?

(For the info on the quoted literature, please contact me through the contact formulary)

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