The Taste of the Future. Culinary Compass for a Healthy Planet Methodology report

For WWF Germany, corsus conducted the study The taste of the future. A culinary compass for a healthy diet. The study analyses the environmental impacts of nutrition in Germany and shows how these can be influenced by a change in diet. The WWF has now published the methodology report for this study, which describes the approach taken in the study.

The starting point for the analysis of the environmental impact of nutrition in Germany is the average food basket consumed annually by a person in Germany. Food consumption includes all food consumed and discarded at the level of the end consumer. Starting from the food products contained in the shopping basket, the material flows are traced back to their origin up to agricultural production.

Illustration of the approach to calculating the environmental impact of food: direction of flow of goods via agriculture and animal husbandry to trade

The calculation was carried out according to the specifications of the international standard for product life cycle assessments, ISO 14040/44. Greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gas emissions from land use and direct land use changes, land use, water consumption and water scarcity as well as biodiversity were considered.

In order to be able to show the influence of a change in diet, three scenarios were considered in addition to the status quo, based on the recommendations of the Eat Lancet Commission (Willet et al. 2019¹):

  • flexitarian diet
  • vegetarian diet
  • vegan diet

The exact approach is explained in the methods report.

The results show that, on average, we eat far too much in Germany today and that a flexitarian diet alone, which follows the recommendations of the Eat Lancet Commission, can significantly reduce environmental impacts. At the same time, it could be shown that a vegetarian or vegan diet following the recommendations of the Eat Lancet Commission would lead to significant reductions in most environmental impacts. Thus, greenhouse gas emissions, the land footprint and the impact on biodiversity could be reduced to about half. Only the impacts related to water scarcity would increase – mainly caused by the consumption of citrus fruits and Californian almonds.

¹ Willett, Walter; Rockström, Johan; Loken, Brent; Springmann, Marco; Lang, Tim; Vermeulen, Sonja; Garnett, Tara; Tilman, David; DeClerck, Fabrice; Wood, Amanda; Jonell, Malin; Clark, Michael; J Gordon, Line; Fanzo, Jessica; Hawkes, Corinna; Zurayk, Rami; Rivera, Juan A; De Vries, Wim; Majele Sibanda, Lindiwe; Afshin, Ashkan; Chaudhary, Abhishek; Herrero, Mario; Agustina, Rina; Branca, Francesco; Lartey, Anna; Fan, Shenggen; Crona, Beatrice; Fox, Elizabeth; Bignet, Victoria; Troell, Max; Lindahl, Therese; Singh, Sudhvir; Cornell, Sarah E; Reddy, K Srinath; Narain, Sunita; Nishtar, Sania; Murray; Christopher J L (2019): Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems; The Lancet, Published online January 16, 2019

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