As per Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), roughly, one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year, that is approximately 1.3 billion tonnes, gets lost or wasted. In India alone, food worth Rs. 244 crore is wasted on a daily basis. If the world wants to address the problems that arise from food waste, climate change, food scarcity, unhealthy dietary consumption, scientists suggest that it might be a good idea to start by analysing the food on your plate – and adopting a “flexitarian” diet.
“The food system is a major driver of climate change, changes in land use, depletion of freshwater resources, and pollution of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems through excessive nitrogen and phosphorus inputs”, the study says.
What is a flexitarian diet?
“You can go from a diet that has small amounts of animal products, some might call it a Mediterranean based diet, we call it a flexitarian diet, over to a pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan diet – we tried to stay with the most conservative one of these which in our view is the flexitarian one, but even this has only one serving of red meat per week”, the study stated.
How does a flexitarian diet help?
The study found that if the world shifted to a “flexitarian diet”, greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture would be reduced by more than half.
Scientists believe that it is one of three key steps towards a sustainable future for all in 2050. It becomes important because according to the findings in the study, without action, the impacts of the food system could increase by up to 90%.
In addition, the study found that halving the amount of food lost to waste would reduce the environmental impacts of agriculture by 16%.
Warning that sustainability may suffer if the current trend continues, the study revealed that, “Here we show that between 2010 and 2050, as a result of expected changes in population and income levels, the environmental effects of the food system could increase by 50–90% in the absence of technological changes and dedicated mitigation measures, reaching levels that are beyond the planetary boundaries that define a safe operating space for humanity”
However, a single solution may not be feasible to avert the dangers, which calls for a combined approach. Along with a change in diet, the research points out that farming practices and the way the food supply chain operates need to change significantly too.