Evaluating the environmental impact of various dietary patterns combined with different food production systems. Eur J Clin Nutr

San Bortolo Hospital, Vicenza, Veneto, Italy
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Impact Factor: 2.71). 03/2007; 61(2):279-86. DOI: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602522
Source: PubMed


OBJECTIVE: Recent studies support the hypothesis that plant-based diets are environmentally better than meat-based diets. This study aims to further explore this topic and to compare different environmental impacts resulting from different dietary patterns (omnivorous, vegetarian, vegan) and methods of production (conventional farming and organic agriculture). DESIGN: Three weekly balanced diets, equivalent to one another for energetic and nutrient content, have been planned: an omnivorous one, a vegetarian one and a vegan one. For each one, the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method has been applied in order to calculate the environmental impact, expressed in 'points'. INTERVENTIONS: The software we selected to carry out the Inventory Analysis and the Impact Assessment is SimaPro5. The Assessment phase has been conducted using Ecoindicator 99, a damage-oriented method, which analyses the impact according to three large damage categories, each of them subsuming various impact categories.

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Available from: Luciana Baroni
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    • "Moreover, it is a major consumer and polluting water resources, contributing around 30% of N and P content of watercourses [10] [11] [12] [13]. These data are even more striking in the case of the bovine meat sector as beef is often the food of animal origin with greater ecological impact [14] [15] [16] [17] [18]. Moreover, various socio-economic factors have led to either the abandonment or the intensification of the farms, which threatens the conservation of valuable agro-ecosystems. "
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    • "In addition, according to the FAO's Livestock Long Shadow report[43]and many other LCA analyses66676869, livestock has a strong impact on water pollution, land use and biodiversity, and heavily contributes to greenhouse gases emissions (contributing to 18% of global emissions over its lifecycle[43]). Amongst studies aiming at identifying dietary patterns that have a lower impact on the environment, the great majority agrees on the benefits of reducing meat consumption7071727374757677. Often this argument has been supported by health reasons, asserting that a shift towards a more plant based diet would improve health, as proven by a number of dietary guidelines promoting a lower meat consumption compared to the current one in western countries787980. "
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    • "Approximately 70% of freshwater is consumed by agriculture. (Baroni et al., 2007). Fresh water is a finite resource, essential for agriculture, industry and even human existence, without fresh water of adequate quantity and quality; sustainable development will not be possible. "
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