Everything we eat has some impact on planet Earth - and the animals with whom we share it. Populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish have declined by 60% in the last 40 years alone. Food production contributed significantly to this loss of biodiversity. Around the world, WWF is working to build a more sustainable food system. Consumers and food producers all share a responsibility to ensure that we can feed ourselves while preserving the habitats and natural resources that wildlife need to survive. This journey starts with understanding how our diets affect the animals we care about. Learn about the connections between different foods and species and how you can shop smarter and eat more sustainably to help protect them.

1. Chimps and Chocolate Bars

The Ivory Coast is the world’s largest cocoa-producing country and one of the last remaining homes for western chimpanzees. While the country has many national parks to protect our ape cousins, forests are still being cleared illegally for cocoa production. And some of that cocoa may be making its way into the chocolate we enjoy here at home. Fortunately, certification programs like the Rainforest Alliance give chocolate lovers a way to ensure their sweet treats are produced in ways that protect forests and their wild inhabitants as well as the farmers who grow cocoa.

Portrait of a young Bonobo (Pan paniscusin) a tree. Nkala Group. Malebo, Democratic Republic of Congo. © Karine Aigner / WWF-US

2. Elephants and Snacks

Sumatran elephants are charismatic and iconic. But across the Indonesian island of Sumatra, they’re losing their forest homes to the unsustainable and illegal production of palm oil. Palm oil is used in about half of the products on supermarket shelves, including many processed foods like chocolate, chips, cookies, cereal, instant noodles, etc.

Consumers looking for products containing responsibly produced palm oil should keep an eye out for the Certified Sustainable Palm Oil label. It means palm oil is produced in ways that protect not just elephants and their habitats, but orangutans, rhinos, and tigers, too. While certifications need revision all the time and amendements to fit to the environmental expectations, they still provide a solid alternative.  

Two young African elephant (Loxodonta africana) bulls playing together in savanna, Kenya, Africa. © naturepl.com / Klein & Hubert / WWF

3. Tigers and Pesto

With flavor as bright as its color, pesto is a delicious treat. And while basil is the star, pine nuts provide a creamy texture and savory flavor. But where do pine nuts even come from? Many come from pine trees across the Russian Far East and Eastern China—also home to currently endangered Amur tigers. These animals eat wild deer and boar, which, in turn, eat pine nuts. That’s why WWF is working with Russian communities and companies to sustain forests and the pine nuts they produce for the benefit of local communities and tigers alike.

Tigeress (Panthera tigris) and cub © Shutterstock / Evgeniyqw / WWF


4. Lemurs and Vanilla Ice Cream

It’s often equated with plainness, but vanilla is a classic flavor – and still among the most popular kinds of ice cream. But what is vanilla exactly and where does it come from?

Believe it or not, vanilla is the fruit of orchids - and more of it is grown in Madagascar than anywhere else on the planet. Madagascar is also home to the world’s only native lemur populations, from the silky sifaka to the ring-tailed lemur. And while agriculture is driving the loss of their habitat, recent studies show that sustainably designed and managed vanilla plantations can actually support lemurs and connect fragmented natural habitats. WWF is working with farmers and spice companies to find more sustainable ways to produce vanilla while protecting these perky primates.

Coquerel's sifaka (Propithecus coquereli) with infant in Antanarivo, Madagascar © Renee Turgeon

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