Sustainable diet: examining the GHG emissions, land requirements and water footprint impacts of three dietary scenarios in the UK

by Wasu, Amitoj, MS

Abstract (Summary)
The food sector contributes to a significant amount of environmental degradation. In combination with technological advances in food production, changing dietary consumption patterns along with the minimisation of waste are necessary to mitigate the food sector is threat to the environment. The aim of this study was to analyse the effects that dietary choices have in reducing the environmental impacts from the food sector, specifically it focused on GHG emissions, land requirements and the water footprint. It examined three dietary scenarios: i) the current average UK diet, ii) a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet and iii) a vegan diet. The results suggest that dietary change can play a critical role in achieving environmental goals within the food sector. A 67% GHG emission reduction, a 57% land use reduction and a 16% water footprint reduction has been calculated in this study, by changing from the current average UK diet to a vegan diet. The extent of the environmental reduction potential is significantly dependent on the amount and type of animal products included in the diet, in addition to the type of foods used to substitute it. A number of additional methodological aspects and uncertainties which this paper highlights can be addressed to improve upon the robustness and the quality of the findings. These include but are not limited to sourcing UK estimates for land use and water consumption, accounting for different land types and including import data into the analysis. Finally, to further understand the significance of dietary change in developing a more sustainable food system, requires further understanding of the environmental impacts of plant-based alternatives to meat, the impacts that dietary change has in different locations and social conditions across the globe, as well as measures on how it impacts other pillars of sustainability.
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Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Dr Tse-Hui Teh

School:University of London - University College London

School Location:United Kingdom

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:Sustainable Diet;Vegan Diet; GHG Emissions; Land Requirements; Water Footprint


Date of Publication:10/27/2018

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