It started with an idea. The Scottish Universities Insight Institute call was highlighted to us by our team member and Dundee-based anaesthetist, Dr Lesley Crichton. Students for Global Health Dundee then met to share ideas on what might best meet the criteria for the call. One idea stood out: encouraging adoption of the Lancet Planetary Health Diet, and sustainably buying, by the local community.
Being involved in healthcare, you begin to see how the seemingly small choices that people make add up to big outcomes, whether these be good or bad; this is why enabling positive behavioural change for people and planet was high on our list of priorities. Eating sustainably is difficult, and food-shopping riddled with potential planetary minefields. This is why we used the Planetary Health Diet as the basis of our project: an evidence-based people- and planet-friendly guide from which we could work to create delicious recipes and promote local businesses.
Setting up any successful project begins with one vital activity: finding a brilliant and committed team. We were lucky enough to make contact with the Edinburgh University Food Security and Sustainability Society (FSSS) early on, and the project team was born. Together with a team from hugely diverse academic and work backgrounds, we began to flesh out our concept and create our funding proposal.
Then came our first event: a collaborative knowledge sharing workshop with small businesses, academics, nutritionist, sustainability experts and more. We met on Zoom to discuss recipes, how to facilitate business participation, seasonal buying, and the nitty gritty of changing the behaviour of communities. There was lots of healthy discussion, and the spectrum of opinions and experience allowed us to go forward with an informed plan for our June trial.
Of course, any worthwhile journey has some bends in the road. Our initial funding application for SUII was send back with suggestions for improvement. We were disappointed, but not deterred. After collaborating to make the necessary tweaks, and further refining our project plan in the process, we resubmitted and were successful!
The purpose of this blog was to show how the small seeds of our idea have led to the launch of our June trial. By bringing in a wide array of expertise, and responding positively to feedback, we have created something we can be proud of. If you have a passion for planetary health, or just want to try something new, we encourage you to participate in our June trial (you can sign up on our Get Involved page). Join the nutrition revolution!