1 Section for Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Food and Resource Economics, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet2 Design and Consumer Behavior, Department of Food Science, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet3 Design and Consumer Behavior, Department of Food Science, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet
it reduces the associated socioeconomic cost of diets
Background: The New Nordic Diet (NND) was designed by gastronomic, nutritional, and environmental specialists to be a palatable, healthy, and sustainable diet containing 35% less meat than the Average Danish Diet (ADD); more whole-grain products, nuts, fruit, and vegetables; locally grown food in season; and >75% organic produce. The environmental impact of the 2 diets was compared based on 16 impact categories, which were monetized to evaluate the overall socioeconomic effect of a shift from an ADD to an NND. Objective: The objective was to determine whether this diet shift can be an effective tool in environmental protection. Design: The 3 features by which this diet shift affects the environment—composition, transport (import), and type of production (organic/conventional)—were separately investigated by using life cycle assessment. Results: When both diet composition and transport were taken into account, the NND reduced the environmental impact relative to the ADD measured by all 16 impact categories. The socioeconomic savings related to this diet shift was €266/person per year, or 32% of the overall environmental cost of the ADD. When the actual 8% content of organic produce in the ADD and the 84% content of organic produce in the investigated recipe-based NND were also taken into account, the NND reduced the environmental impact relative to the ADD measured by only 10 of the 16 impact categories whereas 6 were increased. The socioeconomic savings related to the diet shift were lowered to €42/person per year, or 5% of the overall environmental cost of the ADD. Conclusion: Reducing the content of meat and excluding most long-distance imports were of substantial environmental and socioeconomic advantage to the NND when compared with the ADD, whereas including high amounts of organic produce was a disadvantage.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2014, Vol 99, Issue 5, p. 1117-1125