Do Healthy Diets Protect The Planet? As The U.N. Meets, A Focus On Sustainability

As United Nations leaders gather in New York, top food and nutrition experts are convening for a forum to talk about how people around the globe can have both a nourished diet and a healthy planet.
A farmer in India piles millet in a field. Grains such as millet and sorghum pack a powerful nutritional punch, but they are overlooked for calorie-laden commodity crops such as wheat or maize. Source: Sam Panthaky

There's a lot of talk about how to make our food supply more sustainable. And, increasingly, eaters connect the dots between a healthy diet and a healthy planet. One line of evidence? A shift on grocery store shelves.

At my neighborhood Safeway, veggie dogs were once hard to find (tucked in the back of the produce aisle). Now, there's an expansive section of plant-based protein products, including vegan cheeses and sausages. As sales of plant-based proteins rise, there's growing awareness of the ecological footprint of beef production. Who knew it could take about 50 gallons of water to produce a 1/4 lb hamburger?

Sustainability goes beyond food production. Last year, Unilever committed to by 2025. Nestle has made a . These companies, along with other big players — including Mars and Danone North America — have formed a new trade association called the , which such as nutrition, sustainable agriculture and renewable energy.

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