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Transformational food system changes are critical to improve population health and safeguard environmental sustainability. Rapid population-level dietary change towards ‘sustainable diets’ is an essential part of food system transformations. ‘Sustainable diets’ – especially in high-income settings – typically comprise predominantly plant-based foods and limited amounts of animal-sourced foods, particularly red/processed meat. 

Successful shifts to predominantly plant-based diets would involve a major gear-change, as - compared to current or “average” diets – the demand for plant-based foods will surge substantially.  The question how this increased demand for plant-based foods could be met, remains understudied. Looking at trends in production and import strategies of several high-income countries, dependence on climate vulnerable countries for plant-based food supply has steadily increased over the past decades. Hence, there are major concerns about the resilience of simply “scaling up” the current  plant-based supply in such settings.

Careful assessment of how the “plant-based food supply gap” could be addressed is urgently needed: this could include both  the exploration of expanding domestic production and increasing imports. For the latter, possible co-harms in producing countries should  be carefully identified, assessed, mapped and addressed.     

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

This webinar has been endorsed by the Association for Nutrition (AfN) (EN175).