VEGANISM is becoming an increasingly mainstream lifestyle choice, says nu3 chief executive officer Robert Sünderhauf.
Intelligent nutrition retailer nu3 has released a study comparing carbon dioxide emissions for 130 countries worldwide based on dietary habits.
Zambia is ranked number 108 in the index, emitting on average 29.56 kg of CO2 per person annually for animal products and 4.60 kg of CO2 per person annually for non-animal products. With the environmental impacts of humanity’s eating preferences at the forefront of discussion, the nutrition specialist wanted to further the debate by looking into the food industry’s carbon footprint, directly comparing different diets in terms of carbon dioxide emissions.
The study reveals which countries could significantly reduce their carbon footprint by switching to a plant-based diet, as well as which food types generate the highest carbon dioxide emissions.
Using data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the study compares figures for each country on the following topics; the quantity of 11 types of food supplied for consumption. Seven of these are popular animal products, such as beef, chicken, and milk, including cheese.
Non-animal products include soybeans and nuts, including peanut butter, the annual carbon dioxide emissions for each food type, per person and the annual CO2 difference between 1 kg of animal product and 1 kg of non-animal product. This figure indicates how many kg of CO2 an individual could reduce their carbon footprint by per year if they switched from an animal to a non-animal diet.
The study began by analysing data from the FAO to determine the quantity of produce supplied for consumption of 11 food types in 130 countries. This included seven animal products (pork, poultry, beef, lamb & goat, fish, eggs, and milk including cheese) and four non-animal products (wheat and wheat products, rice, soybeans, and nuts including peanut butter).
Next, using the worldwide average CO2 emission figures for supplying each food type for consumption, the annual quantity of CO2 per capita for each product could be determined.
In this way, an average annual CO2 emission per capita for animal and non-animal products could be found for each country. Finally, the difference between these average figures was calculated, revealing the kg of CO2 a citizen in each country could reduce annually by replacing 1 kg of animal product with 1 kg of non-animal product.
“Veganism is an increasingly mainstream lifestyle choice, as demonstrated by our vegan product revenue doubling in the last year alone. With this study revealing how switching diets could drastically reduce our carbon footprint, it’s becoming increasingly harder to ignore the benefits of moving to a plant-based diet, both for our health and our planet,” he said.
“For those who find the idea of completely giving up meat a challenge, this index highlights some realistic and achievable alternatives. For instance, healthier fish and poultry have a far lower CO2 emission rate than fattier red meats such as lamb and beef, while eggs produce significantly lower emission rates than milk products and cheese. All evidence points towards a mainly plant-based diet, with lean animal-based protein if needed, to help both our bodies and our environment prosper.”
Sünderhauf said according to estimations, there are around 375 million vegetarians worldwide. He said with research indicating that the global meat-alternative market will reach $5.2 billion by 2020, this increasing lifestyle trend shows no sign of slowing down.
“All you need to do is look at your supermarket shelves, restaurant menus and social media to realise that more people than ever are going meat-free. In addition, we can see this reflected in our own revenue of vegan products, which increased by 159% within a year,” he said.
“While establishments such as The Vegan Society and movements like Veganuary are raising awareness about the benefits of a plant-based diet, we believe that this study will help further the discussion around the environmental impact of our eating habits. Nations with a large meat consumption have a great deal to gain by giving up animal products. These include countries such as Australia, The United States and France, where citizens could on average save over 220 kg of CO2 a year by swapping just 1 kg of meat for 1 kg of non-meat produce.”
A Berlin-based online retailer, nu3 are specialists in healthy functional nutrition and the pioneering development of innovative foods with high nutrient content.
The company was founded in 2011 by Dr Sünderhauf and Kassian Ortner, who remain managing directors today and operates online shops in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and France.