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14 March 2016  

Researchers in Sweden dig into sustainable diets

Researchers in Sweden have been looking at a new method of food production, which could help in the design of sustainable diets. The main principles of this method, known as ‘ECOLEFT’, is that food production should not exceed the level of arable land available globally.

ECOLEFT follows three main principles: arable land should mainly be used for production of plant-based foods for humans; livestock should be fed biomass not suitable/desirable by humans; semi-natural grassland should be used for livestock production only if grazing can be justified by reasons other than meat and milk production (e.g. biodiversity conservation, providing livelihood).

Land use for all ECOLEFT diets was within planetary boundaries, and lower than for the current Swedish population’s diet. After producing the food needed and energy needed for agriculture, there was ‘spare land’ available in all the ECOLEFT diets, when compared with the total currently available arable land in Sweden. The results were less favourable in terms of climate impact. All diets led to the production of GHGs, varying from 0.36 to 0.62 CO2 equivalents per capita and year. However they are considerably lower than current western diets and remain compatible with a global warming cap of 2 degrees.

For more information, read the Science for Environmental Policy article.