This is what sustainable nutrition could look like – SWR Knowledge

We will need roughly two of the land to provide all the people with the resources in the long run. So the way we use resources has to change. One of the main factors is our diet.















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Sustainable nutrition is complex

Sustainably eating can only be done if you are a vegetarian, and ideally even if you are a vegetarian. A thesis that divides our society. Some agree with it completely, while others find it too extreme.

According to Dr. Matin Gaim, a professor at the University of Bonn, the thesis cannot be answered so easily, because, according to Kaem, the topic of sustainable nutrition has several dimensions. In addition to climate protection, water factors, land use, nutrition, health and social factors must also be considered.

“If we really only look at the climate, it wouldn’t be the best meat ever, because meat is simply more climate-intensive than a vegetarian diet. But if you introduce different dimensions of sustainability, then small to moderate amounts of meat consumption can also be justified,” says the agricultural economist and the existing agricultural world.



When it comes to sustainable nutrition, many different factors must be considered.


Alliance Pictures / Services Report



/ dpa central image


A new diet model from Finland

Scientists from Helsinki have developed a nutritional model that takes some of these factors into account. It covers all the important nutrients, protects the land and water, and it has a low percentage of greenhouse gases. This is possible because animal products are being replaced by new foods.

According to Dr. Isabelle Wendel of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Foods that reduce the climate footprint “are often new foods based on microorganisms, for example on the basis of fungi, bacteria and algae, but also those that are produced on the basis of cell or tissue cultures.”

This diet is optimal for the environment

A perfect diet with these new foods could reduce greenhouse gases, land use and water scarcity by more than 80 percent in Europe. Meat, eggs, milk, fish and animal fats are completely avoided. According to the study, a diet with new foods is better for the environment than a purely vegetarian diet – at least for the use of land and water resources. Just in order to reduce greenhouse gases, a purely vegan diet without new foods is a little more effective.

However, this is all theory. In the end, a plant-based diet as well as new foods as an alternative to meat would be ideal for our environment.

Illustration of different types of meat cubes (Photo: picture-alliance / Reportdienste, picture alliance / dpa / Merck | -)

Eating meat without an animal dying for it? This is acceptable! Whole meals of meat can be produced from individual cells in the laboratory.
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This concept will not spread at the moment

According to Dr. However, the existing solid is social factors as well. So it will take some time for this form of nutrition to solidify. In Europe, this is partly due to a lack of acceptance among the population and a lack of knowledge. But also because producing new foods from the lab as a meat substitute is still very complex and expensive.

According to D, the matter is further complicated by the poorer supply situation in developing countries. Not many have year-round access to fresh fruits, vegetables, or other perishable produce while also being an important source of nutrients.

“Especially in these situations, small amounts of meat can be very, very beneficial. Part of the question is also how do we use certain resources, such as grass, that humans cannot use directly because we humans cannot digest cellulose at all.”

Unlike cows for example. Therefore, keeping and then eating the animals in grassy, ​​non-arable areas can be sustainable. Not only in developing countries, but also in Europe. This does not mean that we should continue as we were.



Growing corn as animal feed (Photo: IMAGO, / blickwinkel)

Corn is mainly grown as animal feed.


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Our diet will never be zero emissions

Currently, nearly 50 percent of the world’s arable land is used to grow crops for animal feed rather than human food. Dr. Mateen Qaim believes that this is neither good for an efficient social food supply nor environmentally friendly and should be changed. It’s not about not using any other resources at all, it’s about better handling the resources we have. Because we can dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions through our diet:

“In Germany we are seeing a very small decrease in the average meat consumption, but it is so slow that we may need decades to get to somewhere acceptable in the long term. We have to look for ways and opportunities to speed this up, it is politically inconvenient and undesirable. Socially, but I would also consider taxing meat to be an option, for example.”

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