Environmental impacts of changes to healthier diets in Europe
Food consumption causes, together with mobility, shelter and the use of electrical products, most life cycle impacts of consumption. Meat and dairy are among the highest contributors to environmental impacts from food consumption. A healthier diet might have less environmental impacts. Using the E3IOT environmentally extended input output database developed in an EU study on Environmental Impacts of Products (EIPRO), this paper estimates the difference in impacts between the European status quo and three simulated diet baskets, i.e. a pattern according to universal dietary recommendations, the same pattern with reduced meat consumption, and a 'Mediterranean' pattern with reduced meat consumption. Production technologies, protein and energy intake were kept constant. Though this implies just moderate dietary shifts, impact reductions of up to 8% were possible in reduced meat scenarios. The slightly changed food costs do not lead to significant first order rebound effects. Second order rebounds were estimated by applying the CAPRI partial equilibrium model. This analysis showed that European meat production sector will most likely respond by higher exports to compensate for losses on the domestic meat market. Higher impact reductions probably would need more drastic diet changes.
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