Knowledge for better food systems

Book chapter: The solution on our plates

The book chapter Why sustainable plant-based diets are needed to reverse the food-climate-health-equity crisis by FCRN member David A Cleveland, part of the book Plant-based diets for succulence and sustainability, argues that plant-based diets are a key part of the response to the interlinked crises in food, climate, health and inequality.


I assume that most of us want delicious, nutritious food; environment-and climate-friendly food; and just and ethical food that supports our communities (human and non-human). The food systems that both drive our diets and are driven by them jeopardize all of these goals by creating a food-climate-health-equity crisis. In this chapter, I answer key questions about the relationship of our current diets to the food-climate-health-equity crisis and the potential of sustainable (in terms of the environment, health, and community) plant-based diets (SPBDs) as a solution. I then give some examples of potential and existing efforts to move towards SPBDs and mitigate the crisis.



Cleveland, D. A. (2019). The solution on our plates: why sustainable plant based diets are needed to reverse the food-climate-health-equity crisis. In Plant-Based Diets for Succulence and Sustainability, K.M. Kevany, editor, pp. 31-48. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, UK and New York: Routledge.

Read more here. The text of the chapter can be viewed on Google Books. See also the Foodsource resource How might we define sustainable and healthy eating patterns (SHEPs)?

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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