Sustainable meat consumption: A quantitative analysis of nutritional intake, greenhouse gas emissions and land use from a Swedish perspective

  • Hallström E
  • Röös E
  • Börjesson P
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Abstract

Background: Food consumption is one of the most important drivers of environmental pressures. Adoption of healthy diets is suggested to be an option for less environmentally intensive food habits and improved public health. In particular, changes in meat consumption are believed to bring potential benefits. Objective: To quantify the impact of changes in meat consumption on the dietary contribution of nutrients, GHG emissions and on land requirement. Design: Scenario analysis is performed for three scenarios representing different variants of meat consumption in Sweden. The reference scenario is based on average Swedish meat consumption while NUTR-1 and NUTR-2 are hypothetical scenarios in line with prevailing dietary guidelines. The results are evaluated in relation to the recommended daily intake of nutrients, international climate goals and global capacity for sustainable expansion of agricultural land. Uncertainties and variations in data are captured by using Monte Carlo simulation. Results: Meat consumption in line with nutritional guidelines, implying an approximate 25% reduction of Swedish average intake, reduces the contribution of total and saturated fat by 59-76%, energy, iron and zinc by about half and protein by one quarter. Restrictions in meat consumption are most critical for the intake of iron and zinc, whereas positive effects on public health are expected due to the reduced intake of saturated fat. Aligning meat consumption with dietary guidelines reduces GHG emissions from meat production from 40% to approximately 15-25% of the long-term (2050) per capita budget of sustainable GHG emissions and the share of per capita available cropland from 50% to 20-30%. Conclusions: This quantitative analysis suggests that beneficial synergies, in terms of public health, GHG emissions and land use pressure, can be provided by reducing current Swedish meat consumption. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Climate
  • Diet
  • Land use
  • Meat
  • Nutrition
  • Scenario analysis

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Authors

  • E. Hallström

  • E. Röös

  • P. Börjesson

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