Integrating nutrient bioavailability and co-production links when identifying sustainable diets: How low should we reduce meat consumption?
Sommaire de l'article
Reducing the consumption of meat and other animal-based products is widely advocated to improve the sustainability of diets in high-income countries. However, such reduction may impair nutritional adequacy, since the bioavailability of key nutrients is higher when they come from animal- vs plant-based foods. Meat reduction may also affect the balance between foods co-produced within the same animal production system.
The objective was to assess the impact of introducing nutrient bioavailability and co-production links considerations on the dietary changes needed – especially regarding meat ‒ to improve diet sustainability.
Diet optimization with linear and non-linear programming was used to design, for each gender, three modeled diets departing the least from the mean observed French diet (OBS) while reducing by at least 30% the diet-related environmental impacts (greenhouse gas emissions, eutrophication, acidification): i) in the nutrition-environment (NE) model, the fulfillment of recommended dietary allowances for all nutrients was imposed; ii) in the NE-bioavailability (NEB) model, nutritional adequacy was further ensured by accounting for iron, zinc, protein and provitamin A bioavailability; iii) in the NEB-co-production (NEB-CP) model, two links between co-produced animal foods (milk-beef and blood sausage-pork) were additionally included into the models by proportionally co-constraining their respective quantities. The price and environmental impacts of individual foods were assumed to be constant.
'Fruit and vegetables' and 'Starches' quantities increased in all modeled diets compared to OBS. In parallel, total meat and ruminant meat quantities decreased. Starting from 110g/d women's OBS diet (168g/d for men), total meat quantity decreased by 78%, 67% and 32% for women (68%, 66% and 62% for men) in NE, NEB and NEB-CP diets, respectively. Starting from 36g/d women's OBS diet (54g/d for men), ruminant meat quantity dropped severely by 84% and 87% in NE and NEB diets for women (80% and 78% for men), whereas it only decreased by 27% in NEB-CP diets (38% for men). The share of energy and proteins of animal origin was similar for the 3 modeled diets (approximately 1/5 of total energy, and 1/2 of protein) and lower than in OBS diet (approximately 1/3 of total energy, and 2/3 of protein).
Decreasing meat content was strictly needed to achieve more sustainable diets for French adults, but the reduction was less severe when nutrient bioavailability and co-production links were taken into account.