Sustain London Food Link Articles

Change our food to save our planet

Our planet is heating up dangerously and the food sector is contributing to climate change. This is no reason for any of us to cross our arms, says Sustain’s Sofia Parente.

Spitalfields City Farm. Credit: Zoe Warde-Aldam

Spitalfields City Farm. Credit: Zoe Warde-Aldam

Food production and consumption plays a huge role in climate change. Up to one third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from food. Meat, notably beef, comes under particular scrutiny due to higher emissions from production compared to plant-sourced protein.

Sustain believes that a transition to better food and farming, which allows everyone to have access to a planet-friendly diet, is possible without giving up meat. If we used land more efficiently, there would be enough sustainably-produced food to feed the entire world population. In the UK, we are eating too much sugar, meat and ultra-processed food and not enough fresh fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and pulses. This is not good for our health or the planet.

What you can do

Everyone eats, so there are things we can each do to help make a positive change. For a start, you can buy local and cook more. Too much of what we eat is controlled by big corporations; according to a 2014 Oxfam report, if the world’s 10 biggest food and drink companies were a country, it would rank 25th in the global greenhouse emissions table! If you want to fight the tide of corporate control of our food system, choose local and ethical retailers and producers instead. You can also choose to eat less but better meat.

Tipping the balance

Away from Westminster, councils play an important role. Councils hold four big keys in the fight against climate change through food. They buy huge amounts of food for schools, care homes, nurseries, and staff canteens. They can support food businesses to transition to better practices. They collect and manage food waste. They also own and manage land that could be protected for good food production. If you want change to happen beyond your plate, contact your local councillors about these issues and pressure your council to do more.

Food for the planet

Despite their power to act on climate change, and the fact that three quarters of local authorities have declared a climate emergency, only about a third of places with a climate action plan mention food in a meaningful way. To fill this gap, Sustainable Food Places and Sustain launched the Food For the Planet campaign to help reduce the negative environmental impact of food through local action.

Is your borough taking action?

Find out what your local authority is doing to reduce food system GHG emissions in the Every Mouthful Counts report. And if they are not doing enough? Point them in the direction of the Food for the Planet toolkit.


Sustain will be releasing the Good Food For All Londoners report in March which will look in-depth at what London councils are doing to make healthy, sustainable and fair food affordable and accessible for citizens. You can find past reports here.


Live in London? Find out how your borough fared in the Every Mouthful Counts report here

Published Monday 9 January 2023

London Food Link: London Food Link brings together community food enterprises and projects that are working to make good food accessible to everyone in London to help create a healthy, sustainable and ethical food system for all.

Support our work

Your donation will help support community food initiatives and enterprises to thrive as part of a more sustainable food system.


The Green House
244-254 Cambridge Heath Road
London E2 9DA

020 3559 6777

Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

© Sustain 2024
Registered charity (no. 1018643)
Data privacy & cookies