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.