The Mediterranean diet, a menu traditionally eaten in Spain, leaves less of a carbon footprint than that of the U.S. or the United Kingdom.
A new study in which participates the University Hospital of Huelva, the Jaume I University and the University of Huelva, analyses the carbon footprint of the menus served daily in Spain, basically based on a Mediterranean diet, and compares it with the menus ingested in Anglo-Saxon countries such as the UK or USA.
“Fighting climate change is an international priority to be executed in all areas, as in the family, considering our daily diet,” explains Rosario Vidal to Sinc, first author of the study and researcher at the Department of Mechanical and Construction Engineering of the institution in Castellón.
Data were collected at Juan Ramón Jiménez Hospital of Huelva, in which a total of 448 lunches and 448 dinners spread throughout all the seasons were analysed to meet a daily requirement of 2,000 kcal.
The differences between the Mediterranean diet and the Anglo-Saxon countries are that, in Spain, it is consumed much less beef and more vegetables and fruits. However, according to researchers these figures could be broadly extrapolated. “These menus could have also been served in any Spanish school, restaurant or home. The recipes analysed include some typical dishes such as gazpacho, ratatouille, paella or stew,” says Vidal.
During the investigation was developed a database with the carbon footprint of grown, fished or produced food -mainly in Spain-, and was calculated the carbon footprint of each dish and menu by simply multiplying the gross amount required for their preparation.
The daily average carbon footprint obtained was 5.08 kg of equivalent CO2 (CO2e), well below the average in the USA, estimated between 8.5 and 8.8 kg of CO2e, or the UK, estimated at 7.4 kg CO2e; all to the same calorie intake. In addition, it was also obtained the carbon footprint for 17 other therapeutic diets as bland, liquid, low-protein or high-protein diets.
“The differences between the mean value of the Mediterranean diet and Anglo-Saxon countries are due to the fact that in Spain it is consumed much less beef –one of the food with a greater carbon footprint- and instead are consumed more vegetables and fruits, with a low carbon footprint,” says the expert. “Therefore, it is not only healthier, but our diet is also greener”.