The cost of animal products is poor
Products made with dried beef, such as biltong or beef jerky, scored the highest in the study – and more and more supermarkets in Germany can find such dried meat products as snacks. Typically, products from meat, fish, and cheese are highly valued, while many desserts and baked goods are in the middle, and products from fruit, vegetables, sugar, and flour, such as soups, salads, bread, and many breakfast cereals. was at the lower end of the scale.
The study also compared the environmental impacts of meat and meat alternatives, including plant-based sausages or burgers. Many alternative products had only one-fifth to one-tenth the environmental impact of their meat-based equivalents.
“Overall, the British results are consistent with what we found for current dietary habits in Germany,” Rolf Sommer, head of agriculture and land use at WWF Germany, commented in an independent assessment. “We depend on the ecosystem services of intact nature in many ways,” Sommer explains. “So our eating habits are jeopardizing our own food security.” The agricultural expert summarizes: “More fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and fewer animal products is a good formula for the environment and your own health.”
Sustainable foods are more nutritious
This recommendation is inconsistent with the global guidelines of the “Planetary Health Diet” presented by the “Eat Lancet” Commission in 2019, and includes goals for a balanced and environmentally friendly diet. They also mention another finding of the current study. Their authors observed that more sustainable foods are more nutritious.
The analysis also showed large differences within a product category. Depending on the ingredients and composition, different pesto sauces, for example, can have different environmental impacts and nutritional values. The researchers made similar comparisons with biscuits, lasagne and sausages. For the authors, this means that even consumers for whom a major change in diet is not possible or attractive can contribute to reducing environmental impact and their own health by choosing certain, appropriately labeled foods.
Overall, the researchers hope that the method they developed will be the first step in enabling consumers, retailers and policy makers to make informed decisions about the environmental impact of food and drink.
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