Over the past few months Laura has been working with Optimeal to find a sustainable, healthy and feasible diet for the EU, focusing on the influence of dairy products and beef. This final year work placement study was for her Master’s degree in Sustainable Development at Utrecht University.
Much research is being carried out to find a better diet, with much to be gained in terms of both health and environmental impact. Optimisation is a valuable tool for including both the nutritional value and the environmental scores of food products in the same assessment. It is a much used method, recent examples being the Menu for Tomorrow
for the Netherlands and Eating for 2 Degrees
for the UK, but there are also studies
with an international scope. The recommendations resulting from such studies tend to be in agreement: eat more vegetables, fish, whole grains, nuts and pulses, and less meat. However, this still takes account of the fact that production of certain foods is interlinked: dairy cows produce milk, but at the end of their productive lives they are slaughtered for beef, and veal production is also closely linked to the dairy industry. In her research, Laura examined this link and found that if we were to stop eating beef altogether, we could not eat any dairy produce, and if we want dairy products, we will also have to eat some beef.