A global transformation towards sustainable food systems is crucial for delivering on climate change mitigation targets, reversing biodiversity loss, and addressing the triple burden of malnutrition (hunger, micronutrient deficiencies and overweight/obesity). Plant-based alternatives to animal sourced foods are pivotal to the transition to healthy and sustainable diets and food systems which deliver better human and planetary health outcomes.
This paper defines plant-based diets as those dietary patterns that place a greater emphasis on a diversity of foods derived from plants. These include fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, pulses, legumes, nuts, seeds, seaweeds, microorganisms including microalgae and fungi (mycoprotein), and plant-based alternatives to substitute dairy and meat products (sometimes referred to as meat and dairy alternatives).
The paper is aimed for use by policy makers and other stakeholders with an interest in food system policy across Europe, outlining why plant-based diets need to be at the heart of policies to create a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system within Europe. It is based on a scientifically rigorous peer review of the most up to date research and literature, assessing the evidence in line with six key sustainability criteria which were outlined within the JRC publication ‘Concepts for a sustainable EU food system’.