Climatic Change

, Volume 156, Issue 4, pp 489–507 | Cite as

The carbon footprint of Danish diets

  • Morena Bruno
  • Marianne Thomsen
  • Federico Maria Pulselli
  • Nicoletta Patrizi
  • Michele Marini
  • Dario CaroEmail author


The Danish diet is characterized by a high content of sugar, fat dairy products and red meat, and a low content of fruits and vegetables. As it is considered unhealthy and environmentally unfriendly, various alternatives to the standard Danish diet have been investigated and promoted in Denmark, such as the New Nordic Diet. By using a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), this study estimates the carbon footprint (CF) of four different diet scenarios in Denmark: standard, carnivore, vegetarian and vegan. The LCA is applied to build a dataset of the 47 most widely eaten food and beverage products, which represent the average Danish eating habits and grouped into six food categories. Unlike most past LCA-based studies, where system boundaries are limited to the farm gate, this study covers all activities and relative use of materials and energy, from the food production phase to the final consumption (namely ‘from-cradle-to-fork’). We find that the highest CF value is associated with the carnivore diet, which has the highest impact (1.83 t CO2eq person−1 year−1). The vegan and vegetarian diets record the best profiles (0.89 and 1.37 t CO2eq person−1 year−1, respectively), whereas the standard Danish diet has a CF value of 1.59 t CO2eq person−1 year−1. We find that the food production phase is the most significant in terms of CF (65–85%). This study confirms that dietary preferences are a strong driver of CF. A comparison with CF associated with other diets suggests that a further research could provide a guidance to promote healthy eating patterns with adequate nutritional values and better environmental performances.


Supplementary material

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ESM 1 (DOCX 57 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Morena Bruno
    • 1
  • Marianne Thomsen
    • 1
  • Federico Maria Pulselli
    • 2
  • Nicoletta Patrizi
    • 2
  • Michele Marini
    • 1
  • Dario Caro
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Environmental ScienceAarhus UniversityRoskildeDenmark
  2. 2.Ecodynamics Group, DEEPS Department of Earth, Environmental and Physical SciencesUniversity of SienaSienaItaly

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