Researchers have recently confirmed that a diet high in fruit and vegetables, especially those organic, is more environment-friendly.
The study, published during the weekend in the Frontiers in Nutrition journal, is the first of its kind that examines the environmental impacts of both dietary patterns and farm production systems.
Researchers of the study surveyed more than 34,000 French adults on their preferences for whether plant-based or animal-based food products and conducted environmental impact assessment at the farm against three indicators: greenhouse gas emissions, cumulative energy demand, and land occupation.
"Combining consumption and farm production data, we found that across the board, diet-related environmental impacts were reduced with a plant-based diet -- particularly greenhouse gas emissions," says Louise Seconda from the French Agence De L'Environnement Et De La Maitrise De L'Energie, who is one of the study's authors.
Diets based on less consumption of animal products, as recommended by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, are more sustainable, because they have less amount of energy requirements of livestock farming and greenhouse gas emission caused by livestock, the study showed.
Researchers also found that organic food provides significant, additional climate benefits.
Seconda hoped that future studies can take into account other factors like pesticide use, leaching and soil quality, so as to get a more extensive understanding of how the entire food production life cycle impacts sustainability.
"We wanted to provide a more comprehensive picture of how different diets impact the environment," Seconda said of the study.