Accepted paper:

Eating less meat to 'save the planet'? Updating healthy eating advice


Isabel Fletcher (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

Sustainability criteria are beginning to be incorporated into official healthy eating advice, however this involves complex judgements about the impacts of specific foods. My presentation describes research to investigate the development of this new policy science in the UK, France and Denmark.

Paper long abstract:

Recently published healthy eating guidelines in several countries - including the Nordic countries and France - have included sustainability criteria by, for example, advising individuals to eat less meat or consume local and seasonal produce. Incorporating evidence about the environment impacts of eating into these guidelines is a difficult task. Research into the effects of diet on health and into the environmental impacts of food production form two large bodies of research. Attempts to combine these separate bodies of knowledge into straightforward recommendations for the general public involve complex judgements about how to reconcile sometimes contradictory and incomplete evidence. Developing advice about ideal levels of meat and fish consumption seems to be particularly controversial.

Debates about these new technologies of food consumption, therefore, provide an excellent opportunity to investigate the development of a novel form of 'policy science' (Jasanoff, 1990). In my presentation, I will first outline the general characteristics of policy science, and then use case studies from twentieth century nutrition advice to discuss the sort of issues that arise in the development of nutritional guidelines by expert advisors and national governments. This presentation is based on the literature review for an interview-based study into the development of sustainable healthy eating guidelines, and, in conclusion, I will outline the more complex debates and issues that I expect my interviewees to discuss when describing the incorporation of sustainability criteria into such advice.

panel T139
Eating for Life: When Food is the Best Medicine