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How to integrate nutrition and sustainability for better diets

Published on
February 5, 2020

In the public debate on more sustainable, as well as healthier, diets, the replacement of animal protein by plant protein is often seen as an important direction. This is based on the fact that the production of plant foods is associated with a lower environmental impact than the production of animal foods. Also, increased intake of plant foods is associated with positive health outcomes.

This is, however, an oversimplification of reality. For example, the exact nutrient contents, its bioavailability, as well as the quality of the protein, is often not taken into account. Also, there is wide variability in sustainability parameters that are relevant, besides the often discussed carbon footprint. This means that the animal versus plant comparison, that is often presented very much as black-and-white, is actually much more a matter of different shades of grey.

Within this course, you will get a better understanding of several concepts related to quantifying the nutritional quality of foods, both looking at individual foods as well as their position in the diet. This will then be further detailed into a more detailed perspective on protein quality. Finally, different sustainability aspects, not only related to greenhouse gas emission, will be discussed. The objective is that you do not only understand the different shades of grey within the protein transition debate, but that you also understand the mathematics behind this.

Finally, you will perform calculations yourself in a somewhat simplified model for nutritional quality, focusing again on protein quality, finally linking this to sustainability. Depending on the questions that you may have, which can range from the nutritional quality of individual products, to the fit of a product category within sustainable diets, you can work on the challenging that you and your company are facing.