Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Adoption of the ‘planetary health diet’ has different impacts on countries’ greenhouse gas emissions

Abstract

A worldwide shift from current diets to the planetary health diet proposed by the EAT–Lancet Commission would have direct implications for agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. By modelling the trajectory of food from cradle to farm gate while accounting for international trade, we estimate that agricultural GHG emissions would decrease in 101 countries as well as globally. Yet, in primarily low- and middle-income countries, agricultural GHG emissions would increase by 12–283%. Country-specific impacts of dietary transitions should be considered in climate change mitigation policy.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Country-specific change in per capita GHG emissions associated with the shift from current consumption patterns to the planetary health diet.
Fig. 2: Levels of change in per capita GHG emissions associated with the shift to the planetary health diet across the world.

Data availability

Data used in adapting the EAT–Lancet diet are provided in Supplementary Data Tables 1, 2, 6 and 7. Data used in modelling GHG emissions are provided via Mendeley Data: https://data.mendeley.com/datasets/g8n8w8snmj/3.

Code availability

Python scripts used for modelling GHG emissions are available from M.W.B. upon reasonable request (e-mail: mbloem1@jhu.edu).

References

  1. 1.

    Willett, W. et al. Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. Lancet 393, 447–492 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    The Planetary Health Diet (EAT–Lancet, accessed 15 December 2019); https://eatforum.org/learn-and-discover/the-planetary-health-diet/

  3. 3.

    Reisinger, A. & Clark, H. How much do direct livestock emissions actually contribute to global warming? Glob. Change Biol. 24, 1749–1761 (2018).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Godfray, H. C. J. et al. Meat consumption, health, and the environment. Science 361, eaam5324 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Kim, B. F. et al. Country-specific dietary shifts to mitigate climate and water crises. Glob. Environ. Change 62, 101926 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Global Health Observatory (GHO) Data (World Health Organization, accessed 19 December 2019); https://www.who.int/gho/en/

  7. 7.

    Pelletier, D. L., Frongillo, E. A. Jr., Schroeder, D. G. & Habicht, J. P. The effects of malnutrition on child mortality in developing countries. Bull. World Health Organ. 73, 443–448 (1995).

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Popkin, B. M., Corvalan, C. & Grummer-Strawn, L. M. Dynamics of the double burden of malnutrition and the changing nutrition reality. Lancet 395, 65–74 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Hirvonen, K., Bai, Y., Headey, D. & Masters, W. A. Affordability of the EAT–Lancet reference diet: a global analysis. Lancet Glob. Health 8, e59–e66 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Baldi, G. et al. Cost of the Diet (CoD) tool: first results from Indonesia and applications for policy discussion on food and nutrition security. Food Nutr. Bull. 34, S35–S42 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Headey, D. D. & Alderman, H. H. The relative caloric prices of healthy and unhealthy foods differ systematically across income levels and continents. J. Nutr. 149, 2020–2033 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    FAOSTAT (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2017); http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/

  13. 13.

    Gustavsson, J., Cederberg, C., Sonesson, U. & Emanuelsson A. The Methodology of the FAO Study: “Global Food Losses and Food Waste – Extent, Causes and Prevention”- FAO, 2011 (The Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology, 2013).

  14. 14.

    GLEAM-i, version 2.0, revision 3 (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2017); http://www.fao.org/gleam/resources/en/

  15. 15.

    Global Livestock Environmental Assessment Model, version 2.0, model description revision 4 (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2017).

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Santa Barbara Foundation (https://www.sbfoundation.org/). The funders had no role in preparing, reviewing or editing the manuscript.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

R.D.S., M.W.B. and K.N. designed the study. B.K. conducted the analysis and produced the figures. S.d.P., S.M., M.W.B., B.K. and K.N. contributed to data interpretation. R.D.S. wrote the paper. M.W.B., S.d.P., S.M., K.N. and B.K. edited the paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Richard D. Semba.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Table 1

Composition of the planetary health diet for an intake of 2,500 kcal d−1.

Supplementary Table 2

Adoption of the planetary health diet and per capita GHG emission in 151 countries and territories with overweight and stunting prevalence in each country.

Supplementary Data

Supplementary Data.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Semba, R.D., de Pee, S., Kim, B. et al. Adoption of the ‘planetary health diet’ has different impacts on countries’ greenhouse gas emissions. Nat Food 1, 481–484 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-020-0128-4

Download citation

Further reading

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing