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Title: The implications of achieving healthy and environmentally sustainable diets for future land use in the United Kingdom
Author: De Ruiter, Heine-Richard
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 3626
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2017
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The concept of sustainable diets has received increasing attention as it is recognised that several global challenges, such as malnutrition and mitigating pressures on global land resources, might be tackled together through changes in diets. This thesis has used the UK as a case study to analyse the implications of achieving healthy and environmentally sustainable diets for future land use. This thesis shows the total agricultural footprint of UK's food supply has decreased slightly over the last decades due to a lower ruminant livestock product supply. However, the total cropland footprint and its associated greenhouse gas emissions have increased, and these impacts are increasingly displaced overseas. Land use efficiency of the food supply was evaluated by combining agricultural and nutritional data. While a focus on calories and protein reflects favourably on cereals and oil crops, assessing a wider range of nutrients shows that roots & tubers and vegetables are important to “feed the UK” efficiently. Reducing land use associated with UK's food supply is possible while still meeting dietary requirements and this generally also lowers greenhouse gas emissions. Discretionary foods, such as coffee, tea and wine, and animal products should be reduced for a lower impact, but trade-offs were also identified. Four insights relevant for the wider literature were identified: a) the complexity of international trade complicates the assessment of sustainability due to difficulties linking production and consumption, b) there are different types of agricultural land, each with their own opportunity costs, c) new metrics for agricultural yield are needed, moving from “tonnes per hectare” to “people fed per hectare”, and d) the trade-offs between different environmental indicators are important. With an uncertain policy environment and a lack of willing among the population to make significant changes in their diets, the future of UK land use and diets is unclear.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Aberdeen ; James Hutton Institute
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sustainable agriculture ; Diet ; Food supply ; Land use