Life cycle assessment on the plate: a purely vegan diet is not a solution

A purely vegan diet in Germany is almost impossible and undesirable for climate protection reasons. According to the Federal Association for Cattle and Pigs (BRS), at least nutritionist Dr. Malte Rubach in his book “Life cycle assessment on the plate: How we can protect the climate with our food”. In it, the author advocates a moderate consumption of regionally produced foods, in which plant and animal foods complement each other.

High demand for water

In addition to the risks of a needs-based nutrient supply, Rubach criticizes the high water requirement of an exclusively plant-based diet in his publication. He refers to studies by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which calculates that a vegan diet in Germany requires 50% more water than the current mixed diet with foods of animal origin. Due to the high proportion of imported plant-based foods, this diet is a particular burden for exporting countries, which have only scarce water resources.

Regional and seasonal food production.

In his book, the author draws attention to another effect: the diet-related CO2 footprint of a consumer in Germany, in contrast to that of a consumer living in Africa, is “only” 2.4 instead of 2.8 t of CO2 equivalent per year. The reason for this is very efficient German food production. The expert recalls that nutritional recommendations must take these connections into account and must not lead to a mandatory avoidance of foods of animal origin. For climate protection reasons, Rubach advocates producing food that is as regional and seasonal as possible. Food of animal origin could also be produced regionally in Germany throughout the year, since more than 90% of animal food came from domestic crops. Therefore, sustainable food production is currently unthinkable without animal husbandry.

Closed nutrient cycles

Regarding Rubach’s book, the BRS notes that farm animals make an important contribution to land and resource use in food production, as they use plant matter from agricultural production inedible for humans and use it to produce high quality food. . In addition, they provide fertilizer, help reduce the use of mineral fertilizers and close nutrient cycles.

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