If pressure on the purse strings is putting you off shifting to a more healthy sustainable diet, then you’re certainly not alone. Many people find it difficult to make the switch because they feel that the cost and the hassle of preparing certain foods are too big a challenge, a US survey has revealed.
Now the authors are calling for steps to address the barriers people face in adopting healthy sustainable diets that will benefit both the planet and human health.
Making the right food choices means balancing conflicts
Choosing what food to buy is often a trade-off between conflicting influences, the survey showed. At the top of the list of priorities are price, health, taste, and time to prepare or procure food.
But the survey found that for Americans, price and convenience typically outweigh everything else when doing the food shop, including considerations related to environmental impact and animal welfare. And healthy foods are often viewed as a bit pricier than other options.
Consumers find some plant-based foods strike a difficult balance
Consumers need to have a clearer idea about the role in the diet of new plant-based foods intended to replace meat and other animal-based foods.
Other research has shown that classifications of cultured meat and meat substitutes are not always clear to the consumer, adding to the confusion. These findings have implications for dietary guidelines and more clarity is needed on where and how these products fit into a healthy diet, the authors suggest.
Overcoming barriers to healthy, sustainable diets
Steps to raise dietary education and awareness, and policy interventions that address barriers to healthy, sustainable diets are needed, say the study authors, to transform food systems for the sake of both human and planetary health.
Identifying different consumer groups and the best way to communicate with them is also key to support the shift toward healthy and sustainable diets, the authors say.
‘Conflicting considerations, disagreement in classification of new products, and limited consensus for perceived health and environmental impact of foods present challenges to the achievement of diets that are health and environmentally sustainable.’ Fox et al. 2021