To operationalize the great food system transformation and ensure its sustainability, five areas of research and action require more attention: economic and structural costs; political economy; diversity of cultural norms; equity and social justice; and governance and decision support tools.
The EAT–Lancet Commission report on healthy diets from sustainable food systems1 has now become a landmark publication in the debate on why food systems must transform, and why human and planetary health must be conjoined objectives. The report called for a “great food transformation” to enable substantial dietary shifts and sustainable food production; it presented a universal reference diet for healthy intake levels of different food groups protective against a set of disease burdens, and it calculated the environmental impacts of this reference diet in a 2050 scenario. While several high-profile documents had already compiled extensive information on food systems and diets2,3,4, the EAT–Lancet report shows that it is possible to feed a population of 10 billion healthy diets within planetary boundaries, as long as ambitious actions across agricultural production, governance of land use, supply chain efficiencies, food environments and energy transitions are taken.
The crucial next step pivots on a more comprehensive approach to health, environment and sustainability — one that incorporates social equity, fair politics and viable economics in a way that explicitly addresses some of the inevitable trade-offs humanity must face in this twenty-first century. To operationalize the great transformation with these sensitivities, we identify five areas where more research and data are needed. For each of these areas, we present examples of interventions that have proven effective at triggering the types of transformative changes that are necessary.