UN Report Advocates ‘Demitarian’ Diet for a Climate-Friendly Christmas

by Ella

In a bid to make holiday diets more environmentally conscious, a recent report from the United Nations (UN) suggests embracing a ‘demitarian’ approach. The study reveals that reducing meat and dairy consumption could prove more impactful in curbing nitrogen pollution than adopting a vegan diet.

Nitrogen’s Role and Impact

Nitrogen, a vital element for plant growth found in synthetic fertilizers, becomes a concerning greenhouse gas when leaked into the environment. The gas is reported to be 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The UN report, titled “Appetite for Change,” offers solutions aimed at halving nitrogen pollution from agriculture and the food system in Europe.


The Nitrogen Pollution Challenge

Produced by a collaborative effort between researchers from the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), the European Commission, Copenhagen Business School, and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) of The Netherlands, the study identifies inefficiencies in farming, retail, and wastewater practices. These inefficiencies result in a mere 18% nitrogen use efficiency in the European food system, allowing the majority to leak into the air, water, and soil.


Consequences of Nitrogen Leaks

The leaked nitrogen transforms into harmful forms, including ammonia, nitrogen oxides (harmful air pollutants), nitrous oxide (a potent greenhouse gas), and nitrate (impacting water quality).


The Call for Dietary Change

The report recommends halving average European meat and dairy consumption, advocating for a more plant-based diet to address pollution and enhance human health. Approximately 80% of the continent’s nitrogen emissions are attributed to the food system, particularly livestock.


Benefits of Plant-Based Agriculture

Shifting towards plant-based agriculture is highlighted as a more efficient and sustainable alternative, requiring less land and fertilizers. To facilitate this shift, the report proposes financial incentives for environmentally friendly foods and encourages the adoption of public sector catering contracts that prioritize sustainability.


Comprehensive Policy Approach

The researchers emphasize the need for a comprehensive policy approach addressing both food production and consumption to support a transition to sustainable systems. Improved management of fertilizer use, proper manure storage, and enhanced wastewater treatment are identified as crucial elements in mitigating nitrogen emissions.

Demitarian vs. Vegan: A Comparative Analysis

Contrary to the widespread promotion of veganism as an environmentally friendly diet, the report suggests that adopting a ‘demitarian’ approach, which involves halving meat and dairy consumption, could be more effective in reducing nitrogen waste by 2030. Professor Mark Sutton of UKCEH, one of the editors of “Appetite for Change,” emphasizes the importance of a balanced diet with reduced meat and dairy for improved nutrition and overall health, thereby reducing the strain on healthcare services.



Wellfoodrecipes is a professional gourmet portal, the main columns include gourmet recipes, healthy diet, desserts, festival recipes, meat and seafood recipes, etc.

【Contact us: [email protected]

Copyright © 2023