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Environmental Impacts of Dietary Recommendations and Dietary Styles: Germany as an example

You may be interested in this study co-authored by FCRN network member Toni Meier on diets and environmental impacts, published in the Journal of Environmental Science & Technology.


Besides technical improvements and a reduction of food losses in the food chain, diet shifts offer practicable opportunities to reduce environmental impacts in the agri-food sector on a low-cost basis. In this paper we analyze the environmental impacts of nutrition in Germany in the year 2006. Based on an equalized daily energy uptake of 2000 kcal person day, we compared these impacts with those of four dietary scenarios (D-A-CH, UGB, ovo-lacto vegetarian, vegan) and with average nutrition from 20 years ago, differentiating between effects caused by altering food losses, food wastage, and changed diets. In the year 2006 gender-related impacts were considered separately. With regard to the scenarios analyzed, the highest impact changes would be expected from the vegan and the ovo-lacto vegetarian diet. The impact potentials of the recommendations of UGB and D-A-CH rank third and fourth, but are still significant. Concerning gender, the average female diet is already closer to the recommendations than men’s. In comparison to the years 1985−1989, all indicators (with the exception of blue water) show lower impacts, due mainly to changes in diet. In comparison to this, impact changes resulting from food wastage were lower and mainly contrarian, which could be explained by higher food wastage in 2006 compared to 1985−1989.


Meier, T., Christen, O. (2012): Environmental impacts of dietary recommendations and dietary styles: Germany as an example. Journal of Environmental Science & Technology. DOI: 10.1021/es302152v

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Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.

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