`Mediterranean Diet Also Good for the Environment - Olive Oil Times

Mediterranean Diet Also Good for the Environment

By Isabel Putinja
Apr. 6, 2015 11:08 UTC

A recent Spanish study has con­cluded that the Mediterranean diet is not only healthy but also bet­ter for the envi­ron­ment.

The Mediterranean diet has been lauded as one of the health­i­est diets in the world because of its high con­sump­tion of veg­eta­bles, legumes, fruits and olive oil, and low intake of ani­mal pro­tein.

A recent study has revealed that the diet pre­dom­i­nant in Mediterranean coun­tries cre­ates a much smaller car­bon foot­print than the stan­dard diets of coun­tries like the United States and the United Kingdom.

The study con­ducted by a team of five Spanish researchers from the University Hospital Complex of Huelva, Jaume I University of Castellón and the University of Huelva, ana­lyzed the con­tents of meals served at Juan Ramón Jiménez Hospital in Huelva, south­west­ern Spain. The menus of 448 lunches and 448 din­ners, each total­ing 2,000 calo­ries, were ana­lyzed over a period of four sea­sons.

The esti­mated car­bon foot­print of each of the foods was entered into a data­base spe­cially cre­ated for the study. In this way, the aver­age daily car­bon foot­print was cal­cu­lated to be 5.08 kg of CO2 equiv­a­lent (CO2e), less than the US aver­age which is esti­mated to be between 8.5 kg and 8.8 kg of CO2e and the UK aver­age of 7.4 kg of CO2e, for the same calorific intake.

The study con­cluded that diet has a sig­nif­i­cant impact on green­house gas emis­sions, with a Mediterranean diet being asso­ci­ated with a lower envi­ron­men­tal impact than diets dom­i­nated by meat.

In 2006, a United Nations report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) con­cluded that the meat indus­try is one of the most sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tors to envi­ron­men­tal prob­lems and that meat pro­duc­tion is respon­si­ble for 18 per­cent of the world’s green­house gas emis­sions, more than trans­porta­tion.


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