In this episode of the WRI Podcast, Lawrence MacDonald sits down with Daniel Vennard of the Better Buying Lab to discuss the environmental impacts our diets have and the kinds of innovation that are needed to shift more people to ways of eating that are healthy for people and planet.

WRI's research has shown that a world population of nearly 10 billion people by 2050 will require 70 percent more food than what's available today. If we're to meet the demands of the future, we must change production and consumption patterns – and particularly the increasing demand for resource-intensive foods like beef.

To help consumers make the shift, the Better Buying Lab has brought together a powerhouse mix of leading food companies, consumer behavior experts, marketing strategists and researchers to develop and test approaches that will enable consumers to choose more sustainable foods when they shop or dine out. Unilever Food Solutions is the newest company to join the Lab, with other members including Google, Hilton Worldwide, Sainsbury's, Stanford Dining, Quorn, Triniti Marketing, Panera Bread, Sodexo and WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme). Together, Better Buying Lab member companies are part of serving more than 60 billion meals each year.

What to do?

The Better Buying Lab and its members have identified three initial areas where big change is possible and innovation is essential.

  • How do we break with traditional habits of describing plant-based foods and do so in a positive way that appeals to meat- and non-meat eaters alike?
  • How do we popularize dishes centered around vegetables, legumes and other plants and ensure they break through on more menus?
  • How can companies and other organizations track environmental benefits of diet shifts over time, and know if shifts are ambitious enough to meet global environmental goals?

In this podcast, hear Daniel go in-depth on why urgent answers are needed and how the Better Buying Lab is bringing the food industry together to act.