Sustainability 2.0

Sustainability 2.0

Suitable for Gastronomy:
An Expanded Definition of Sustainability

The classical definition of sustainability is based on the three pillars of economy, ecology, and social issues. This does not capture the full range of challenges and opportunities that the gastronomy sector presents. In particular, it does not do justice to the impact of gastronomy on health and ethical standards.

Therefore, we at Branding Cuisine believe that sustainability in gastronomy should be defined by five pillars – expanded to include the pillars of health and ethics.


Definition Nachhaltigkeit für die Gastronomie durch Branding Cuisine

Sustainability 2.0

Health: A Central Pillar of Sustainable Gastronomy

Not car accidents or wars, but improper dietary habits and the associated diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are the leading causes of death worldwide. Over 60 percent of people in industrialized countries are considered overweight. In Germany alone, the economic costs associated with obesity amount to nearly 100 billion euros annually.

The risk of zoonoses (diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans) has increased due to the exploitation of nature, deforestation for meat production, and intensive livestock farming. Studies suggest that 60 percent of new infectious diseases are of zoonotic origin. This highlights the connection between our diet, animal husbandry, and global health risks.

As a public space, the "third place," gastronomy shapes public opinion and what is considered normal. A pleasurable restaurant visit can be good, neutral, or bad for our health. Gastronomy can be part of the societal health problem or contribute to the solution.


Ethics: The Need to Rethink Our Relationship with Animals

We should recognize that today's moral consensus on the consumption of animal products lags behind both ecological reality and scientific knowledge about the sentience of animals. With 97 percent of so-called livestock farming, the practice of intensive animal farming in Germany is not the exception but the rule. Apart from the enormous climatic and ecological damage that animal farming causes, it inflicts immeasurable suffering on millions of animals daily. In light of scientific findings that identify animals as sentient, intelligent, and social beings, it raises serious ethical questions.

Many gastronomes justify the consumption of animals through traditional practices or a supposed evolutionary necessity. These views ignore our capacity to make conscious ethical choices and reflect on the moral consequences of our diet. We can choose alternatives that do not cause suffering. We share an understanding that our personal freedom ends where it infringes on the fundamental rights of others. If we recognize animals as sentient individuals, shouldn't their right to life and freedom from suffering be considered more important than our preference to consume them as products?

It's time to re-evaluate our perspective. The gastronomy sector is faced with the challenge of reconsidering its purchasing practices and offerings. It can contribute to the maintenance of systems that are incompatible with contemporary ethical standards, or help establish new ethical norms.


Why Not Solely Align with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals?

Why should the gastronomy sector not align its sustainability efforts solely with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? At first glance, our model of five pillars – economy, ecology, social, health, and ethics – might seem redundant in light of the 17 comprehensive SDGs. The SDGs offer a detailed agenda for addressing global challenges, yet upon closer inspection, gaps emerge, especially concerning the gastronomy sector.

Take, for example, SDG 3 “Good Health and Well-being,” which focuses on overall well-being and health equity. Despite its 13 specific targets, there's not a single direct mention of the role that diet plays in promoting health. Similarly, SDG 2 “Zero Hunger” addresses food security, improved nutrition, and sustainable agriculture but fails to directly tackle the growing issue of obesity. Considering that obesity now claims more lives than hunger, this is a significant omission.

Moreover, the exploitation of animals goes unmentioned in the SDGs. Goals such as SDG 14 “Life Below Water” and SDG 15 “Life on Land” focus on preserving biodiversity and natural ecosystems without directly addressing the individual protection of animals from exploitation. These targets are essential for the planet but do not consider the ethical concerns associated with the gastronomy industry – particularly concerning the use of animals as products.

We recognize the value of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a global blueprint. However, as important and comprehensive as the current SDGs may be, they are not sufficient to fully define sustainability in gastronomy. Branding Cuisine's approach, which extends the traditional pillars of sustainability to include health and ethics, offers a framework that directly addresses the specific needs and impacts of the gastronomy sector. This fosters a more comprehensive understanding of sustainability. This understanding aims not only at preserving the environment and social justice but also includes promoting health and respecting all living beings.


The Five Pillars of Sustainability in Gastronomy



An economically sustainable gastronomy secures its long-term economic viability by operating efficiently, strengthening local value chains, and investing in resilient business models. It promotes a stable, fair, and future-oriented food economy.



An ecologically sustainable gastronomy minimizes its ecological footprint through the use of climate-friendly, sustainably produced ingredients, reduction of waste, and conservation of natural resources. It actively contributes to mitigating climate change and protecting the environment and biodiversity.



A socially sustainable gastronomy creates an inclusive, fair, and respectful working environment. It promotes social justice within the industry and society through equal opportunities, fair wages, and support for local communities.



A health-sustainable gastronomy offers food that promotes both individual health and the well-being of society. It contributes to the prevention of lifestyle diseases through a balanced, nutrient-rich diet, considering the global impacts of dietary habits on pandemic risks and public health.



An ethically sustainable gastronomy respects the life and well-being of all beings. It avoids practices that lead to unnecessary suffering and instead promotes food production that is consistent with the principles of respect for life and intelligent coexistence of all species.

Sustainability 2.0

The ecological and ethical imbalance we currently find ourselves in suggests that in the future, plant-based diets could become the norm. In hindsight, it might be surprising why skepticism towards plant-based diets in general, and towards substitute products that deviate only slightly from the usual experience in particular, weighed heavier than ecological and ethical concerns.


No Fear of a Sustainable Offering

Many gastronomes shy away from a consistently sustainable offering. They do not want to patronize their guests but rather leave them with the choice.

A menu limited to sustainable dishes may seem radical to many, but it is not. It is appropriate. Appropriate to address the challenges of our time – climate change, environmental destruction, public health diseases, and animal suffering. It is also a fair approach to relieve guests of the burden of having to choose between immediate gratification and the long-term common good. After all, isn't it natural that we tend to opt for immediate pleasure and act according to familiar patterns in a restaurant, rather than making a decision that considers the common good in the distant future and requires us to think beyond our immediate needs?

The solution lies in combining pleasure and sustainability. A tasty, sustainable offering is not a violation of the guest's freedom but an expression of foresight, responsibility, and fairness.