by Clare Pettinger
I am thrilled to be able to promote the launch of the British Dietetic Association’s (BDA) new#OneBlueDot project. Having been on the national working group for this project, this new Toolkit has been a year in the making. It is intended to provide crucial information to complement the BDA Sustainable Diets policy(BDA 2017) which sets out to promote the role of dietitians and other nutrition (and health) professionals to support the public with change towards more environmentally sustainable dietary patterns.
The name comes from the quote from Carl Sagan about the ‘Pale blue Dot’ seen in a famous image taken from the voyager space craft in 1990, from over 3 billion miles away from earth. Our planet appears as a tiny speck less than one pixel in size. Sagans’ quote finished by saying “to my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known”
“Eat Food – Not too much – mainly plants”
In some ways we have never had it so good – the world produces enough food to feed everyone. But we are eating too much and that is causing massive health problems. We continue to consume excess calories, fat sugar and salt. Fifteen percent of deaths in the UK are attributed to poor diet alone (Lancet, 2018) and most of these are obesity related. This in turn costs the NHS and UK economy a lot of money (estimations £6 billion and lost productivity £30 billion respectively).
The evidence is strong that reducing (not necessarily omitting) meat and dairy foods, and replacing these with plant based sources, will have an impact on HEALTH and ENVIRONMENT….This does not necessarily mean following a vegan diet (a vegan diet, if followed with care, can be very healthy and good for the environment) but evidence supports the need for a sustainable diet to be culturally acceptable and achievable – so it is not realistic to propose a vegan diet for everyone.
So to round up – DIETARY change is needed on a large scale for the benefit of health and environment – which presents us with a challenge! Dietitians (and nutrition professionals) are well positioned to support the public, including vulnerable groups, to understand the practical changes they can make and improve their own health and the health of the planet. The new #OneBlueDot toolkit provides lots of evidence based information and practical resources for use to support people with dietary changes.
Collective action is essential – for the future of humankind and the future of our planet – it is the only one we have….our One Blue Dot!
We all have a role to play – governments, food industry; professionals, NGOs, policy makers, communities and individuals…
So what is YOUR take home message – what are YOU going to change?
Every small effort we make individually can add up to a collective movement for transformational change.
Sustainable Diets are those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimizing natural and human resources (Food and Agricultural Organisation, 2010).