9.6 Conclusions

  • SHEPs are difficult to define in a meaningful way; the FAO provides a definition of a SHEP encompassing environmental, socio-economic and cultural aspects of sustainability, but does not provide guidance on what this looks like “on a plate”.
  • Diets containing fewer animal products have been shown to generate lower GHG emissions and to be associated with lower land use requirements.
  • While adherence to government dietary recommendations can also lead to reductions in GHGs in high income countries, this is not always the case. Where dairy intakes are increased, or high impact fruits and vegetables consumed, the consequence can be higher GHGs than the current average. The substitution effect is critical.
  • In high-income countries, significant reductions in GHG emissions can be achieved by changing diets, but achieving really deep cuts in emissions may require changes in diets that are not considered to be culturally acceptable.
  • Identifying SHEPs requires particular consideration of regional and national contexts, as nutrition issues differ between, for example, rich and poor countries.
  • A focus on dietary change needs to be seen in the context of approaches aimed at reducing the environmental impacts of production and distribution and reducing food waste – i.e. all these approaches go together.