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Promoting environmental sustainability as a dietitian

Dec 17, 2020

United Nations Water (UN-water) describes the water-food-energy nexus as central to sustainable development. 

earth-3289810_1280Yet, demand for all three is constantly on the rise as due to an increasing global population, rapid urbanisation, changing diets and economic growth. 

UN-water further explains that agriculture is the largest consumer of the world’s freshwater resources, and over 25% of the energy used worldwide is used for food production and supply.

Knowing the drastic impact of agriculture on sustainable development begs the question “Could dieticians work as advocates for environmentally sustainable diets?” 

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Some of the world’s raw foods and produce, including some of the more popular, ‘healthy’ foods (like soybeans and salmon) have been shown to negatively affect the environment.

To ensure both healthy populations and a sustainable planet (which directly affects those healthy populations), nutrition and dietetic (N&D) professionals have the opportunity to help by being aware and resourceful when recommending certain foods

Through regular research and sustainable agriculture awareness, these professionals could recommend more locally produced foods, while avoiding suggestion of products that have a negative effect on environments.

Furthermore, opportunities exist in how sustainable development is taught in higher education. In this setting, teaching sustainable development necessitates the implementation of a multi-disciplinary and holistic approach, which fosters teamwork and promotes creativity and innovation

Additionally, by developing the creative and critical problem solving skills to tackle sustainability, N&D students can actively work towards supportive actions in the fulfilment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

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Ultimately, individuals are responsible for the agricultural practices they support in their choice of diet. Yet, N&D professionals and students have specific opportunities to promote more sustainable food choices in their local regions of practice and study.