A sustainable future for food, health and planet? - RSA

A sustainable future for food, health and planet?


  • Picture of Elliot Kett
    Elliot Kett
    Project and Engagement Manager, Food, Farming and Countryside Commission
  • Sustainability
  • Climate change
  • Environment

The recent EAT-Lancet Commission report has polarised opinions across the food, farming and public health sectors. It’s been branded ‘anti-meat,’ ‘vegan propaganda,’ ‘Big Food’ capture, ‘nutritionally deficient,’ and sparked endless tit-for-tat debates in Twitterland. But for many, it has much to commend; it is arguably the most comprehensive and ambitious report that addresses the twin global challenges of healthy diets and sustainable farming.

The tribalism and contested nature of the conversations surrounding the report findings make it clear that there is a need for reasoned debate, to work through the recommendations, problems and tensions, with all perspectives in the room. To convene these differing viewpoints and address the challenging questions, the Centre for Food Policy Food Thinkers Seminars and The RSA Food, Farming & Countryside Commission are co-hosting the EAT-Lancet Commission London event, followed by a panel debate on 20th February at RSA House.

One of the most widely touted challenges to the report is the applicability of the global set of recommendations at a local level – how might different countries respond? The geography and climate in the UK are clearly very different to that of Ecuador, add in to the mix the different cultures and traditions for which food and farming play such a central part, and the best path to progress quickly becomes very difficult to navigate.  

To unpack what the EAT-Lancet framework might look like in a UK context, modelling data will be presented on the 20th February, looking at the following questions;


  • How far off sustainable farming and healthy diets are we in the UK? Where are we now?
  • What is the potential for chronic disease morbidity and mortality to be reduced with a shift to a healthier diet?
  • To what extent do animal welfare and production standards figure in modelling?
  • What are the environmental impacts – greenhouse gas emissions, land use, fertiliser use – for different scenarios in the transition to a more sustainable farming system?
  • What changes to production and consumption would have to occur for the transition to healthier diets and sustainable agriculture?


On the panel debating these questions will be Dr Sandro Demaio (EAT), Prof. Tim Lang (City University Centre for Food Policy), Helen Browning (Soil Association), Baroness Rosie Boycott, Alison Tedstone (Public Health England), and Dr Marco Springmann (University of Oxford), chaired by Sue Pritchard (Food, Farming & Countryside Commission) with closing remarks from Corinna Hawkes (City University Centre for Food Policy).

We hope you can join us for the event at RSA House, but if not, you can watch the livestream of the debate on RSA Events Youtube channel (click here for ticket and Youtube link). Alternatively, you can follow on Twitter using the #FoodThinkers and #RSAEat hashtags.

To set out some of the differing viewpoints, I’ve included some useful links below;

EAT-Lancet Commission report (full)

EAT-Lancet Commission summary report (quick read)

Food, Farming & Countryside Commission favourite eight take-aways

NFU statement

Soil Association statement

Sustainable Food Trust statement

AHDB statement

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