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What is a sustainable diet?

What is a sustainable diet?

Right now, our whole food system is not sustainable - we’re struggling to meet the needs of present population, which is growing a considerable rate! To help, we need to encourage more sustainable diets to ensure both food quality and security.

So, what does the term sustainable diet actually mean, and why do they matter?

The term ‘sustainability’ relies on three main pillars - environmental, social and economic factors, as aligned with information provided by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Their website provides a detailed definition of ‘sustainable diets’, stating they are those with:

 “low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimising natural and human resources”.

This suggests that, broadly speaking, plant-based diets are more sustainable than those rich with animal products, as they use fewer natural resources and are less taxing on the environment.

There’s plenty more research out there supporting the idea that eating ‘plant-based’ is the definition of a sustainable diet. Research from the EAT-Lancet Commission demonstrated that, to prevent devastating destruction to the planet and to guarantee the population can eat ‘healthily’ by 2050, global consumption of foods like red meat and sugar need to decrease by approximately 50%. Whereas, consumption of fruit, vegetables, nuts and legumes must double (alongside large reductions in food waste).


Here are some top tips to eat meat and dairy in the most sustainable way:

  • Do your research - Search for products with the highest levels of animal welfare and with the lowest levels of food processing.

  • Labels - For this, you need to know your labels when buying meat and dairy products – look for labels that represent quality assurance standards, such as Red Tractor. If you want to find out more about what to look for, there’s plenty of information here.

  • Buy local (or at least British!) wherever possible – the lower the food miles, the better.

  • Educate yourself - try to stick to the recommended protein intake amounts as suggested by the NHS. Find out everything you need to know about meat consumption here and for dairy here.

The British Dietetic Association (BDA) has a great fact sheet here that provides more tips for reducing food waste and meat intake too.


It’s our job as food manufacturers and marketeers to ensure that we provide the great British public with not only the best quality food possible but is also sustainable and ethically produced. This is what we aim to do at the Honest Bean Co - it forms part of our ethos. It’s all part of the responsibility of running a food business.

 This is why we have created a plant-based snack with high nutritional value, made with ingredients grown and produced in the UK. They’re a great way to add legumes and plant-based protein into your diet too!

*If you’d like to see exact information sources, just ask! Email us - marketingteam@honestbean.co.uk – we’re more than happy to help.