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Does a healthy lifestyle go hand-in-hand with a sustainable lifestyle?

Posted at 2021-07-09 15:09:37 by Ditte

In a previous blog we highlighted that in order to reach the 2 degree goal, you can have a maximum daily emissions from food of 2.7kgCO2e. At the same time it is important for our bodies to live a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, we decided to find out if living according to a recommended diet is also sustainable.
We are aware that there are many opinions on what a healthy diet is. Hence, we have chosen to base our investigation on the food pyramid and more specifically the food pyramid defined by Harvard (Harvard food pyramid).

There is no example of a diet, but the pyramid is a recommendation on how much of which food group you should consume overall. So, we have put together a diet of all the recommendations that will end up with about 2000 calories per day and have a volume that matches the distribution from the food pyramid.
You can see how the recommended diet was put together on: Example diet - Harvard food pyramid
In each layer of the pyramid there are different types of food, it means there are endless combinations of how to put together a diet that follows the pyramid distribution and this blog must only be seen as one example.

Here is what we have all been waiting for. 2.611 kgCO2e is the result of our example. So it seems like having a healthy balanced diet shouldn’t be an obstacle for also living a sustainable lifestyle. As mentioned before this is only ONE example. The very first example I worked with was based purely on an equal distribution of calories rather than amount/weight. This resulted in a CO2e emission of 3.6kg. Therefore, it is possible to follow the recommendations, but still exceed your “allowed” CO2-budget.

The diet is however a very good guideline for what you can eat in a day. Also the LiveLCA.com diagram gives a very good idea of where you can improve even further, e.g. replacing beef with pork or cheese with eggs. Furthermore, in our blog Your personal CO2e budget to stay below 2℃ , we explain that the world’s average emission from food is 4-5 kgCO2e per person per day. One of the main reasons is a high consumption of beef. E.g. the US consumption of beef is almost 3 times as high as the recommended Per capita consumption of beef in the United States from 2000 to 2030. I believe nowadays it is common knowledge that eating a lot of beef and meat is not the best for the environment, but I hope that this example can give some inspiration on how to put together a sustainable but also healthy diet.

Our recipe tool recipe tool allows for you to put in your own diet and calculate your specific CO2e emission, so if you e.g. have dietary restrictions you can check out yourself what this exactly means for your personal CO2-budget.