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Environmental Impacts of Diet Changes in the EU

  • Authors: Arnold Tukker, Sandra Bausch-Goldbohm, Marieke Verheijden, Arjan de Koning, René Kleijn, Oliver Wolf, Ignacio Pérez Domínguez
  • EUR Number: 23783 EN
  • Publication date: 6/2009


The report is a scientific contribution to the European Commission's Integrated Product Policy framework, which seeks to minimise the environmental degradation caused throughout the life cycle of products.
This report first presents an overview of the environmental impact cause by current dietary habits in EU27. It then develops three alternative diets on the basis of health recommendations from EFSA, WHO and other organisations, and calculates the changes in environmental impacts achievable through a shift towards these diets. Finally the report analyses policy measures which stimulate the uptake of healthy diets by consumers.
The report shows that current dietary habits in Europe are responsible for 27% of all environmental impacts in Europe. A shift to healthier diets shows that the contribution to overall environmental impacts in Europe can be reduced to 25% in case of reduced consumption of red meat. The contribution reduces to just 26% if indirect effects such as household budget re-distribution and price and substitution effects in the agricultural sector are taken into account. Because food and nutrition are strongly rooted in traditions and habits, policy measures aiming at stimulating a change towards healthy diets need to include a combination of different instruments, ranging from consumer awareness raising to public procurement activities.

The report is accompanied by a first Annex report containing details on sources of information, methodology, data and results.
A second Annex report describes the underlying environmentally extended Input-Output model in detail.

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