Environmental impacts of dietary recommendations and dietary styles: Germany as an example

Environ Sci Technol. 2013 Jan 15;47(2):877-88. doi: 10.1021/es302152v. Epub 2012 Dec 17.


Besides technical improvements and a reduction of food losses in the food chain, diet shifts offer practicable opportunities to reduce environmental impacts in the agri-food sector on a low-cost basis. In this paper we analyze the environmental impacts of nutrition in Germany in the year 2006. Based on an equalized daily energy uptake of 2000 kcal person(-1) day(-1), we compared these impacts with those of four dietary scenarios (D-A-CH, UGB, ovo-lacto vegetarian, vegan) and with average nutrition from 20 years ago, differentiating between effects caused by altering food losses, food wastage, and changed diets. In the year 2006 gender-related impacts were considered separately. With regard to the scenarios analyzed, the highest impact changes would be expected from the vegan and the ovo-lacto vegetarian diet. The impact potentials of the recommendations of UGB and D-A-CH rank third and fourth, but are still significant. Concerning gender, the average female diet is already closer to the recommendations than men's. In comparison to the years 1985-1989, all indicators (with the exception of blue water) show lower impacts, due mainly to changes in diet. In comparison to this, impact changes resulting from food wastage were lower and mainly contrarian, which could be explained by higher food wastage in 2006 compared to 1985-1989.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ammonia / analysis
  • Diet* / history
  • Energy Intake
  • Environment*
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Food / history
  • Germany
  • Greenhouse Effect
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutrition Policy*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Ammonia