Sustainable Diets: The Paradox at the Front Lines

I am just back from Granada Spain, where I spoke last week at the International Congress of Dietetics. The theme was sustainability and the crucial role that sustainable diets play.  I met some truly visionary global colleagues who are creating the framework we need to shift to a new paradigm of planetary health.

But I see a deep paradox emerging for those of us who work in sustainability and who believe in sustainable diets. At the heart of our challenge is this:


How does someone passionate about building a more sustainable, healthy and just food and nutrition environment justify un-sustainable behaviors?

Un-Sustainable Trends I've Noticed

Writing my blog in Granada Spain.
Writing my blog in Granada Spain.

Flying frequently to conferences. Flying to meetings with stakeholders and thought leaders in hopes of moving the needle faster on these issues. Visiting farmers, growers and fisherman to see firsthand the challenges and opportunities they face in a rapidly changing world. And while on the road, consuming things like bottled water or unsustainable foods when it is impossible (or incredibly unrealistic) to choose the best options wherever I am.

In my mind, I’ve justified these choices (and my outsized impact) because of what is at stake: the well being of eaters around the world. My children’s future. The planet as we know it, and all of the miraculous Life that it supports.

The more I work in this space, the more I see how the stakes are really this high. Really.

But increasingly, Machiavelli comes to mind. Do these hopefully noble ends really justify such high impact means? Or are they more a part of the problem than contributing to a larger solution?

Like most human beings, I am a continual work in progress. And have many things I could probably be doing better. So as my business continues to expand, and to provide me with incredible opportunities to step onto a greater platform to try and create change and spread the message of what we know works to prevent up to 80% of chronic disease and premature death, I am committed to continually tweaking my travel routine to be more sustainable. And to account for its fair share of impact.

One specific step my company is announcing today:

"We are working to find a reputable partner and make a public carbon commitment before the end of this year (see #10 below) to offset the impact of my travel."

I will report back with an update on specifics in the coming weeks.

What step can you take to be more sustainable in your diet or your work life? Here are 10  powerful sustainability hacks  that will also help unlock higher levels of health and energy.

 10 Powerful Shifts To Be More Sustainable Now

  1. Go meatless more often.
  2. Change the world with the right groceries: build an energizing plant based shopping cart.
  3. Avoid sugar sweetened beverages-and choose filtered tap water as often as you can.
  4. Reduce your food waste.
  5. Add more legumes to your plate every day of the week.
  6. Compost your kitchen scraps.
  7. Find and support a local CSA near you, as well as seasonal and wild foods.
  8. Build an eco-friendly travel kit.
  9. Purchase carbon offsets for your business.
  10. Get groundbreaking strategies to merge personal health, planetary health + profitability from the Harvard School of Public Health’s 2016 Menus of Change Report.

Learn more about Sustainabilty and Sustainable Diets

  • International Congress of Dietetics Conference Info.
  • Follow the online conversation: #icd2016
  • Watch the Sustainable Eating trailer. This movie was created for the ICD 2016 conference, an dwas directed by Carlos Sabater Calafat and produced by a team of dietitians/nutritionists of the Spanish Foundation in collaboration with a group of young film directors. (I was honored to be included)