A new study published by online health food shop nu3 estimates the impact of diet on greenhouse gas emissions by calculating atmospheric CO2 per person for 11 food types.
The company suggests that the study shows which diets have the most direct impact on the environment, and could be used as a guide to indicate which countries could deliver the most impact on their carbon dioxide emissions by adopting plant-based diets. In its focus on the impact of diet on greenhouse gas emissions, the study takes into account both animal and non-animal-based foods.
The study made use of data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and investigated 11 food product types, including seven products of animal origin:
- Eggs; and
- Dairy products, such as cheese.
The study also estimated the climate impact of four products of non-animal origin, which were:
- Wheat (and related products);
- Nuts (and related products, including peanut butter);
- Soy; and
Overall, the study demonstrated that those products which were of non-animal origin were responsible for far lower carbon dioxide emissions than the animal food products, and indicated that a number of European countries could significantly reduce their emissions by making dietary changes.
What were the results of the study?
In evaluating the impact of diet on greenhouse gas emissions, the study indicates that several European countries fall into the top twenty states worldwide whose emissions could be reduced by dietary changes. In particular, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway could all see sharp reductions in emissions simply by switching to a more vegetable-based diet.
Robert Sünderhauf, CEO of nu3, said that the results demonstrate that a strict vegan diet would represent the lowest negative impact on the environment across all EU member states, and welcomed the fact that vegan products are becoming ever more popular.
Sünderhauf added that the study shows how much of a significant reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions could be made if Europeans transitioned to a vegetable-based diet. Even if this proves an obstacle, he contended that because fish and poultry have a far lower impact on CO2 emissions, these could offer a more responsible alternative to red meat such as beef or lamb.