Politics & Law

Australia to Include Sustainability Messaging in Dietary Guidelines to Align with Global Efforts

Australia is set to promote plant-based foods and diets as it looks to incorporate sustainability messaging into an updated version of its official Dietary Guidelines.

Hailed as a milestone step by Food Frontier, a leading advocate for sustainable food solutions, sustainability messaging would raise awareness among Australian consumers about the environmental implications of dietary choices.

The move, recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), is poised to align the country with global efforts. As explained by the alt protein think tank, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Qatar, Norway, Brazil, and Germany have already recognized the need for more sustainable food systems in light of the increasing global population — from 8 to 9.7 billion by 2050 — and climate crisis concerns. 

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For the planet

Dr. Simon Eassom, CEO of the organization, argues that integrating sustainability into the Dietary Guidelines could lead to a more balanced approach to protein consumption by encouraging the adoption of plant-based protein sources that offer health and environmental benefits. 

He said: “The Dietary Guidelines are a respected and well-used reference for food experts and educators. We are yet to see how sustainability will be incorporated by the NHMRC in the review process, but we hope the Guidelines will include evidence about the varying impacts of protein sources.”

The recommendation would also align with global initiatives such as the recent COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate and Health, approved by 143 countries, emphasizing the importance of addressing climate change through less environmentally damaging food systems.

In addition, it could bring the Australian Dietary Guidelines closer to the World Health Organisation’s ‘One Health‘ movement, which aims to balance and optimize the health of people, animals, and ecosystems, says Food Frontier.

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Making a difference

A 2020 University of Oxford study revealed that the dietary guidelines of 85 countries are detrimental to the environment and public health. So, changing dietary guidelines makes a difference, argues Food Frontier.

Australians are among the highest consumers of meat per capita in the world. Meat is a staple part of the Australian diet, with beef, chicken, and lamb being some of the most commonly consumed types of meat.

However, according to studies, 32 % of Australian consumers have been reducing meat consumption within the past year for health concerns. At the same time, other studies suggest that 19% of Australians, especially younger consumers, consider themselves flexitarian.

Meanwhile, according to research from Food Frontier, plant-based meat products have significantly increased in volume and variety in recent years, from under 90 available in the past 90 to almost 300.

The guidelines are expected to be to be completed by 2026.

“We are confident that the final guidelines will be objectively assessed, measured, and balanced and highlight the benefits of alternative and complementary protein sources,” Eassom added.

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