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A move towards healthy and more environmentally sustainable diets

The Rowett Institute at the University of Aberdeen is conducting a study which will explore healthy and more environmentally sustainable diets in Scotland, focusing on the consumption of red meat with the aim to shift towards plant based foods. Here, the Rowett Institute explains the focus of the study planned for 2023.

Cutting down on red meat in people’s diets and eating more unprocessed plant-based foods will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions but could also be better for our health. However, people can’t assume that plant-based diets are always healthy. The challenge we face is how we move towards diets that are healthy for the people and the planet.

Encouraging people to make changes to their diet and choose more environmentally sustainable food is not straightforward, not least with many of the social influences around food choices. To understand this, we are exploring what makes or prevents people from changing their diets in real world settings with the social and situational context behind it. Another important point to consider is the foods and meals people eat and purchase, what they substitute in place of meat and how this may affect the overall quality of their diet. Some plant-based alternatives to meat are highly processed with high salt contents and therefore we need to understand how these are being incorporated into diets. The evidence from these approaches could practically help the government set more effective policies and interventions to improve health and tackle climate change together.

The research is part of ongoing work from The Rowett Institute at the University of Aberdeen led by Prof Jennie Macdiarmid which seeks to find solutions to the challenge of moving the population to healthy and more environmentally sustainable diets.

For more information about the research, you can contact Jennie Macdiarmid by email

Further information can also be found from an article in the Appetite Journal in 2016 which reports on the cultural and social values of people from a range of backgrounds and incomes and their views on red meat and its impact on the environment.

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