A Danish study compared two healthy diets to the average Danish diet, and found that food choices corresponding to the healthier diets contribute less to global warming than standard Danish food choices.
The study from Copenhagen University’s OPUS Centre identified two alternative healthy diets, one based on the Nordic Nutritional Recommendations and one based on the New Nordic Diet, and compared the greenhouse gas emissions associated with each diet. Both of the healthier diets recommend an increase in fruit and vegetables and a decrease in meat consumption compared to the current standard Danish diet. The New Nordic diet also places emphasis on local and organic ingredients.
This cuisine is often associated with fine dining and has been popularized by restaurants like Noma, the Danish haute cuisine spot that, until recently, held the title of the world’s best restaurant. The principles of the cuisine are purity of ingredients, freshness, seasonality, health, and ethical sourcing, and are described in the new Nordic Kitchen Manifesto and endorsed by renowned Nordic chefs.
Both the diet based on the Nordic Nutritional Recommendations and the New Nordic Diet were found to reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to the standard Danish diet. When optimized, the New Nordic diet had the potential to reduce emissions associated with food intake by almost a third. Henrik Saxe of Copenhagen University’s OPUS Centre told the website ScienceNordic that, “The New Nordic Diet contains a great potential for reducing the negative effects that our eating habits have on the environment. Our findings show that the emission of greenhouse gases is at least 6 percent lower with the New Nordic Diet. And there’s a potential for a 27 percent reduction in these emissions, compared to the average Dane’s diet.”
The study’s findings show that there is a link between food choices that are good for health and food choices that are good for the environment. OPUS center director, Arne Astrup, explains the policy implications of the research to ScienceNordic by saying that, “This enables us to convert individual food choices into societal, environmentally-related costs and provides us with crucial information for the drafting of future food policies. According to the United Nations, as early as in 2050 we’ll need to produce food for 9.3 billion people, while continuing our efforts to slow down the effects of climate change.”