During the past few decades, the global food system has confronted new sustainability challenges related not only to public health and the environment but also to ethical concerns over the treatment of farmed animals. However, the traditional threedimensional framework of sustainable development is ill equipped to take ethical concerns related to non-human animals into account. For instance, the interests of farmed animals are often overridden by objectives associated with social, economic or environmental sustainability, despite their vast numbers and influence on contemporary societies. Moreover, sustainability policies necessarily involve an element of ethical evaluation; yet this element is not explicitly incorporated in prevailing frameworks of sustainable development. Our purpose in this article is to address these shortcomings by developing a Sustainability Matrix that recognizes the need to consider food system sustainability from the perspective of all interest groups affected by the issue under consideration, from a plurality of ethical standpoints. Combing sustainability principles with the basic idea of an ethical evaluation tool, the proposed Sustainability Matrix evaluates the sustainability of food-related systems, decisions and policies from the perspectives of three major strands of ethical theory and from the perspectives of human beings, farmed animals and wildlife. In terms of policy implications, the Sustainability Matrix can be applied in deciding on the specific targets of food system sustainability that can then be utilized as a basis for designing policies and measures towards the achievement of these goals.
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DOI 10.1007/s10806-017-9670-y
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