Sustainable diets

BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition and Dietetics Honours Project by Dean Newel (2019) - School of Health & Life Sciences - Department of Occupational Therapy & Human Nutrition and Dietetics  

Poster: Sustainable Diets & Meat Consumption

Anthropogenic activities are a substantial driver of climate change, with one such area being that of unsustainable food consumption. With GCU issuing a Sustainable Food Policy in 2018, with part of the focus on reducing meat intake in line with recommendations, the knowledge and attitudes of GCU restaurant users could be a potential driver in how the commitments in the policy are progressed.   

The aim of this study was to explore the knowledge and attitudes of staff, students and others who use the GCU restaurant, towards sustainable diets and meat consumption.

A questionnaire was produced with multiple choice and free-text answers, for both descriptive statistics and qualitative analysis to determine characteristics of the population.

Participants displayed a great awareness to certain aspects of sustainable diets, including environmental and health impacts. However, this level of awareness did not necessarily correlate with increased sustainable dietary behaviour. Sustainable criteria were of little influence in dietary choices both in general and when using the GCU restaurant. Meat consumption was found to be of little influence on dietary choices, especially regarding food choice at the GCU restaurant, however this may be due to health concerns rather than direct sustainable criteria.

There is a perceived knowledge-action gap that needs to be addressed before substantial changes regarding sustainable food consumption can occur. Understanding of sustainable diets must be improved first to encourage the behavioural changes needed. While attitudes towards meat consumption show that a meat-free day at the GCU restaurant is a feasible way of advancing the GCU’s sustainable food policy, further research is needed to greater understand how best to address the root of the knowledge-action gap of the population.