How Plant-Based Diets Can Help Restore Our Earth

Imagine a world where everyone has access to affordable and nutritious food and where the planet is thriving and regenerating to sustain generations to come. That’s the dream. The reality is that for many people in certain areas of the world, access to food can be a challenge.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, world food production will need to increase by an estimated 70 percent to feed 10 billion people alive by 2050. To provide them with a nutritious diet, global food systems and eating habits need to change.

To achieve sustainability within food systems, we need to meet the nutritional demands of everyone now while also reducing the environmental impact for future generations. So, how can we develop a global food system that nourishes – not just feeds – everyone while being environmentally sustainable?

Sustainable Nutrition: A Path to Restoring Our Earth

The convergence of nutrition and sustainability is essential to a better future, and as conscious consumers, we need to ensure that our diets are not only sustainable for our health but also for our planet. We need to cultivate food that is good for our health in ways that are restorative to our Earth.

Sustainable nutrition offers a forward-thinking framework whereby the food that we eat is diverse, nutrient-dense, and healthy while grown sustainably and without negative impacts on the health of the planet. It is guided by a set of characteristics, including:

The current global diet is unsustainable given the gaps in wealth and opportunity. We live in a world where calorie-rich foods are cheap and more accessible, but they lack the nutrients critical to growth, development, and overall health. According to the 2020 SOFI report, healthy diets are estimated to be five times more expensive than diets that meet dietary energy needs through high-calorie, high-fat foods.

High-quality proteins, especially plant-based proteins such as soy, quinoa, rice and, pea can help to replace the food with little or no nutrition value eaten in poorer areas to overcome the triple burden of malnutrition: undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, and obesity.

Plant-Based Proteins: A Sound Alternative

So, what does a sustainable diet look like?

Cutting back on eating meat and dairy products is said to be an effective method to decrease the environmental impact on the planet, according to a comprehensive analysis of the damage meat farming does to the planet.

Some foods are more harmful to the environment than others. For example, 100 grams of beef protein can result in the release of the equivalent of 105 kilograms of CO2. In contrast, 100 grams of peas emits the equivalent of only about 0.2 kg of CO2.

According to U.S. Food and Agriculture Organization, raising livestock for meat, eggs, and milk generates 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the second-highest source of emissions and greater than all transportation combined.

Furthermore, the American Society of Clinical Nutrition states that worldwide shortages of cropland, fresh water, and energy resources already require most people to live on a plant-based diet.

Consuming plant-based protein is already widespread. More people now understand that plant-based diets are not devoid of protein – in fact, plant-based proteins, as opposed to animal protein, are naturally cholesterol-free and are relatively low in saturated fats.

Current generations are more aware of the impact of environmental sustainability, which leads to greater awareness of soyfoods. From a sustainability standpoint, plant-based proteins – and especially soy – are the smart way to go.

Key Sustainability Benefits of Soy

The environmental advantages of soy-based protein are clear. According to the Life Cycle Screening of Animal and Vegetable derived Protein Sources study by DuPont:

1. Less water usage

Clean water is a scarce resource and the demand has already exceeded availability in many regions with agriculture. Isolated soy protein (ISP) uses much less blue water (38 liters per kg of protein produced) than pork or beef (more than 1,600 liters of water per kg).

Soy Production

2. Efficient land usage

ISP requires 8 m2 of land per kg of protein compared to 1,311 m2 of land for beef.

3. Small carbon footprint

ISP production creates seven to 70 times fewer greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane than beef (2.4 kg compared to 178 kg) and other animal-based proteins.

4. Sustainable sourcing

Herbalife Nutrition is proud to be a major consumer of soy protein. Our soy is sourced from qualified farmers and suppliers in America’s heartland. Our partners are held to our industry-leading standards of quality and integrity. We are proud to partner with farmers like Rob to ensure that the finest ingredients go into our products:

Rising to the Challenge

We live in an era of major challenges. I guess every generation could say the same, but research proves that we are at a critical point on topics such as health and the environment.

As a global nutrition company that has been leading the nutrition industry for 40 years to deliver quality, science-backed nutrition products that form part of balanced, healthy diets, we are aware of the role we can play when it comes to sustainability. At the heart of the development of our nutrition products is a commitment to harnessing plant power throughout, whether that’s through our shakes, tea, aloe, or Enrichual-line of products.

Luigi Gratton

Luigi GrattonM.D., MPH – Vice President of Training

As VP of Training, Dr. Gratton is responsible for ensuring our independent distributors have a thorough understanding of Herbalife Nutrition's products, ingredients, and benefits. He holds a medical degree from Mount Sinai Medical School of New York University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical nutrition at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.