Graham Sustainability Institute

Understanding Strategies to Influence Environmentally Effective Dietary Shifts: Development of a Research Agenda

Cattle grazing

Project Team

Andrew Jones - U-M School of Public Health (SPH) (PI)
Martin Heller - U-M School for Environment and Sustainability
Laurie Lachance - SPH
Diego Rose - Tulane University
Christina Roberto - University of Pennsylvania

External Partner


Project Summary

Diet composition is a major determinant of the greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts associated with agriculture and food systems, and proper shifts in the diets of Americans present substantial opportunity for climate action planning while simultaneously improving nutritional health. For example, new research by co-investigators Heller, Rose and colleagues (in review) estimates that shifting the 20% of U.S. diets with the largest carbon footprints to diets with an average greenhouse gas intensity would fulfill 10% of the emission reductions necessary to meet 2025 U.S. target levels, as proposed to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Yet, very little understanding exists as to what might motivate individuals to change dietary behaviors and what might make for effective strategies to influence widespread, environmentally motivated dietary shifts.

In response to this knowledge gap, the project team will convene an interdisciplinary workshop of thought leaders from academia, community-based organizations, and government and produce a report summarizing the finding of the workshop and accompanying literature review. 

The work will establish a research agenda and momentum for a large research grant. This will, in turn, provide evidence-based guidance for communities, policymakers and institutions to integrate diet shift strategies into climate action planning.

This project received a $10,000 Catalyst Grant in 2018.