The impact of beef consumption on sustainability is a complex and evolving area, as sustainability covers many areas from human nutrient adequacy to ecosystem stability. Three sustainability assessment frameworks have been created to help policy makers unpack the complexities of sustainable food systems and healthy sustainable dietary change. However, none of these frameworks have yet to be applied to a case study or individual policy issue. This paper uses a hybrid version of the sustainability assessment frameworks to investigate the impact of reducing beef consumption (with a concurrent increase in consumption of plant-based foods, with a focus on legumes) on sustainability at a UK level. The aim of this paper is to understand the applicability of these overarching frameworks at the scale of an individual policy. Such an assessment is important, as this application of previously high-level frameworks to individual policies makes it possible to summarise, at a glance, the various co-benefits and trade-offs associated with a given policy, which may be of particular value in terms of stakeholder decision-making. We find that many of the proposed metrics found within the sustainability assessment frameworks are difficult to implement at an individual issue level; however, overall they show that a reduction in beef consumption and an increase in consumption of general plant-based foods, with a focus around legumes production, would be expected to be strongly beneficial in five of the eight overarching measures which were assessed.
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