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Wageningen University

Plant Based Diets: Food for a Sustainable Future

Wageningen University via edX

Overview

Global issues
Global challenges, like the environment and the pandemic, may seem like overwhelming and distant problems, uninfluenceable by any one person. Thankfully, sometimes the answer is surprisingly simple, the solution right in front of us.

The MOOC Plant Based Diets: Food for a Sustainable Future will take you through the science of three global issues – climate change, infectious diseases, and chronic diseases – and show you how they are directly impacted by what’s on the plate in front of you.

Omnivores, be welcome!
Has, like for so many of us, the idea of eliminating animal products from your diet become somewhat of a hot potato? Please know that any shift from animal products toward plants does the trick. So, this course is for you, too!

Sustainability Impact
Becoming aware of the diet-health-climate connection is incredibly empowering. It enables us to improve not only our own health, but that of both population and planet. With large-scale adoption of a predominantly plant based diet, we can change our entire food system from the bottom-up. And in doing so, the future of food becomes what it must be: sustainable. Tag along as this evidence based course translates these large, overarching problems into bite-sized, daily steps.

Who knew that something as seemingly meaningless as eating plants would turn out to be the most impactful thing any individual can do?!

Benefits of plant based diets
So, how does this work? The benefits of a plant rich diet, are many, each setting off a series of cascading positive effects. Let us highlight a few.

  • As a result of consuming healthy nutrition, you can protect yourself from the worst effects of infectious viral diseases (like the current corona pandemic), and can also limit the possible emergence of new outbreaks.
  • By eating a plant based (or vegan) diet, you can reduce your carbon footprint and environmental impact , allowing for a sustainable environment on an inhabitable planet.
  • A whole food plant based diet is an optimal diet for improving overall and metabolic health , your own as well as that of your clients or family. In short, it will not only add years to life, but also life to years.

For whom?
This MOOC was created for anyone, from ambitious learner to student, expert and professional from around the world. Are you interested in health, nutrition, environmental sustainability, system’s thinking and the future of food? Then this empowering, insightful MOOC is for you!

So, are you ready to contribute to solving the complex issues our world faces, while improving your health at the same time? Join us, enrol now.

Syllabus

Module 1: Introduction to the Global Challenges & Systems Thinking
Introduction to the current state of the three challenges this MOOC focuses on: climate change, infectious diseases, and chronic diseases. You will learn about systems thinking and how a holistic, bottom-up consumer approach can bring about system change.

Module 2: Food Choices and the Environment
Learn about the food-climate connection and understand how food choices can contribute to current climate emergencies. How can plant-based diets benefit the environment?

Module 3: Food Choices and Viral Pandemics
Find out how western food choices are connected to the emergence and propagation of infectious outbreaks such as COVID-19. Learn about ways to (collectively) reduce the future risk of communicable diseases.

Module 4: Food Choices and Chronic Disease
Learn about the food-disease connection and understand how dietary habits are directly linked to the majority of the top 10 causes of death globally. Find out what plant-based diets can do in the prevention and reversal of some of the most common chronic diseases.

Module 5: Food Choices and Consumer Engagement
Learn about how you, as a consumer, can leverage your food choices and create bottom-up food system change.

Module 6: Proposed Holistic Solution
Learn about the total interconnected system impacts associated with a shift towards mostly plant-based diets. Also find out what other food system actors can do to mitigate the impacts on both planet and people.

Week 7: assignment
In this capstone assignment you will combine the knowledge of the previous modules to formulate your informed perspective of what healthy and sustainable food choices look like on an individual, local, or national level. This assignment can be applied to a practical case of your choice.

Taught by

Eva Everloo and Ella Stephens

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