The Federal Environment Agency has compared different diets. The result: vegan is not only more sustainable than the average diet, but also the most cost-effective in a certain variant. So you can enjoy your non-meat meal while undertaking your favourite past-time or playing the best online casino in the knowledge that you are being both healthy and socially conscious as well as kind to your wallet.
Vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian or mixed diet: to find out which diet is best for feeding Germany sustainably and healthily, the Federal Environment Agency commissioned expert Marco Springmann from the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University.
In his May 2023 report, the scientist, who specialises in studying food systems based on health, environmental and economic dimensions, recommends more plant-based diets. This would not only protect the climate, but also reduce the per capita cost of food.
Saving Costs with Plant-Based Diets
“Many healthy and sustainable dietary patterns are more affordable for consumers than the current German diet,” the report says. For the comparison, Springmann selected four diets that, according to the current state of science, could provide a healthy diet: flexitarian, pescetarian, vegetarian and vegan.
The flexitarian diet was based on the Planetary Health Diet. Springmann and his team “engineered” the other three by replacing the animal products in these diets with appropriate plant-based (or in the case of pescetarianism, fish and marine) products. When selecting foods, they always ensured that the diet was balanced in terms of nutrients. The costs of the different diets were compared with those for the average German diet in 2017.
According to the report, in 2017, a flexitarian diet saved 6 percent, a vegetarian diet 21 to 25 percent and a vegan diet 15 to 28 percent of costs.
The pescetarian diet, which consumes no meat but more fish, was 8 to 11 percent more expensive than the standard diet in Germany, it said.
Vegan Most Favourably – Under One Condition
The pescetarian, vegetarian and vegan diets were each divided into two different variants in the study. Such with a high portion of grain and such with a high portion of vegetables. Vegans, which use much more grain for the covering of their calorie need, would nourish themselves accordingly most favourably. With a high portion of vegetables however the vegetarian nutrition would cost less.
Here is the evaluation with the daily costs for food in Germany in 2017 depending on the type of diet:
- pescetarian (a lot of vegetables): 5.99 euros
- pescetarian (a lot of cereals): 5.83 euros
- average diet: 5,40 Euro
- flexitarian: 5,08 Euro
- vegan (lots of vegetables): 4,59 Euro
- vegetarian (a lot of vegetables): 4,27 Euro
- vegetarian (much cereals): 4,05 Euro
- vegan (much cereals): 3,89 Euro
The calculations took place on the basis of data collected by the World Bank in 2017. Due to the recent very high inflation, the exact daily costs are therefore probably too low from today’s perspective. Nevertheless, Springmann forecasts a similar result for the year 2030: Vegan with a high proportion of cereals would remain the most favorable diet in the near future. By 2050, however, a vegetarian diet with a high grain content would then be somewhat more economical.
Measures for a more Sustainable Diet
Overall, current eating habits in Germany are not sustainable. Above all, the consumption of animal products is responsible for a considerable part of the environmental impact of the German diet.
To change this, the expert suggests the following three measures:
- A reform of the national dietary recommendations of the German Nutrition Society, which are currently unsustainable (in terms of resource consumption).
- Consideration of the environmental impact of food in pricing to motivate consumers to eat more sustainably.
- Reform of agricultural subsidies to promote sustainable production of healthy foods.
- Dietary changes toward balanced, more plant-based dietary patterns – from low-meat flexitarian to fully vegan – would be “healthier, more cost-effective and more environmentally sound than current diets in Germany,” Springmann concludes.
Would you consider switching your diet? Perhaps you already have and love your new plant-based lifestyle, in which case, we would love to hear more about how it has saved you money as well as how it now makes you feel. Do plant-based choices really make you feel better?
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