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Environmental impacts of changes to healthier diets in Europe


  • Tukker, Arnold
  • Goldbohm, R. Alexandra
  • de Koning, Arjan
  • Verheijden, Marieke
  • Kleijn, René
  • Wolf, Oliver
  • Pérez-Domínguez, Ignacio
  • Rueda-Cantuche, Jose M.


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Tukker, Arnold & Goldbohm, R. Alexandra & de Koning, Arjan & Verheijden, Marieke & Kleijn, René & Wolf, Oliver & Pérez-Domínguez, Ignacio & Rueda-Cantuche, Jose M., 2011. "Environmental impacts of changes to healthier diets in Europe," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(10), pages 1776-1788, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:10:p:1776-1788

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. de Boer, Joop & Helms, Martine & Aiking, Harry, 2006. "Protein consumption and sustainability: Diet diversity in EU-15," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 267-274, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cortés-Borda, D. & Ruiz-Hernández, A. & Guillén-Gosálbez, G. & Llop, M. & Guimerà, R. & Sales-Pardo, M., 2015. "Identifying strategies for mitigating the global warming impact of the EU-25 economy using a multi-objective input–output approach," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 21-30.
    2. Cynthia Yip & Glenis Crane & Jonathan Karnon, 2013. "Systematic review of reducing population meat consumption to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and obtain health benefits: effectiveness and models assessments," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 58(5), pages 683-693, October.
    3. Santini, Fabien & Ronzon, Tevecia & Perez Dominguez, Ignacio & Araujo Enciso, Sergio Rene & Proietti, Ilaria, 2015. "What if meat consumption would decrease more than expected in the developed countries?," 2015 Fourth Congress, June 11-12, 2015, Ancona, Italy 207352, Italian Association of Agricultural and Applied Economics (AIEAA).
    4. Grant Allan & David Comerford & Peter McGregor, 2018. "The system-wide impact of healthy eating: assessing emissions and economic impacts at the regional level," Working Papers 1807, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
    5. Rosemary Green & James Milner & Alan Dangour & Andy Haines & Zaid Chalabi & Anil Markandya & Joseph Spadaro & Paul Wilkinson, 2015. "The potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the UK through healthy and realistic dietary change," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 129(1), pages 253-265, March.
    6. repec:eee:ecolec:v:143:y:2018:i:c:p:286-293 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Reynolds, Christian John & Piantadosi, Julia & Buckley, Jonathan David & Weinstein, Philip & Boland, John, 2015. "Evaluation of the environmental impact of weekly food consumption in different socio-economic households in Australia using environmentally extended input–output analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 58-64.
    8. repec:oup:erevae:v:44:y:2017:i:4:p:540-566. is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:eee:agisys:v:163:y:2018:i:c:p:45-57 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. repec:eee:ecolec:v:147:y:2018:i:c:p:48-61 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Bonnet, Céline & Bouamra-Mechemache, Zohra & Corre, Tifenn, 2016. "An environmental tax towards more sustainable food consumption: empirical evidence of the French meat and marine food consumption," TSE Working Papers 16-639, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    12. Abeliotis, Konstadinos & Costarelli, Vassiliki & Anagnostopoulos, Konstadinos, 2016. "The Effect of Different Types of Diet on Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Greece," International Journal on Food System Dynamics, International Center for Management, Communication, and Research, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 1-14, February.
    13. Goldstein, Benjamin & Hansen, Steffen Foss & Gjerris, Mickey & Laurent, Alexis & Birkved, Morten, 2016. "Ethical aspects of life cycle assessments of diets," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 139-151.
    14. Natalie Doran-Browne & Richard Eckard & Ralph Behrendt & Ross Kingwell, 2015. "Nutrient density as a metric for comparing greenhouse gas emissions from food production," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 129(1), pages 73-87, March.
    15. Irz, Xavier & Leroy, Pascal & Réquillart, Vincent & Soler, Louis-Georges, 2016. "Welfare and sustainability effects of dietary recommendations," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 139-155.
    16. Doro, Erica & Réquillart, Vincent, 2018. "Sustainable diets: are nutritional objectives and low-carbon-emission objectives compatible?," TSE Working Papers 18-913, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    17. repec:eee:ecolec:v:147:y:2018:i:c:p:179-188 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Hadjikakou, Michalis, 2017. "Trimming the excess: environmental impacts of discretionary food consumption in Australia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 119-128.
    19. Vieux, F. & Darmon, N. & Touazi, D. & Soler, L.G., 2012. "Greenhouse gas emissions of self-selected individual diets in France: Changing the diet structure or consuming less?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 91-101.
    20. Vinnari, Markus & Tapio, Petri, 2012. "Sustainability of diets: From concepts to governance," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 46-54.
    21. de Ruiter, Henri & Kastner, Thomas & Nonhebel, Sanderine, 2014. "European dietary patterns and their associated land use: Variation between and within countries," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 158-166.


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