Evaluating the environmental impact of various dietary patterns combined with different food production systems

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007 Feb;61(2):279-86. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602522. Epub 2006 Oct 11.


Objective: Recent studies support the hypothesis that plant-based diets are environmentally better than meat-based diets. This study aims to further explore this topic and to compare different environmental impacts resulting from different dietary patterns (omnivorous, vegetarian, vegan) and methods of production (conventional farming and organic agriculture).

Design: Three weekly balanced diets, equivalent to one another for energetic and nutrient content, have been planned: an omnivorous one, a vegetarian one and a vegan one. For each one, the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method has been applied in order to calculate the environmental impact, expressed in 'points'.

Interventions: The software we selected to carry out the Inventory Analysis and the Impact Assessment is SimaPro5. The Assessment phase has been conducted using Ecoindicator 99, a damage-oriented method, which analyses the impact according to three large damage categories, each of them subsuming various impact categories.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / methods*
  • Animals
  • Diet*
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Environment*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Humans
  • Meat
  • Models, Biological
  • Software


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Dietary Proteins