Dietary pattern-induced greenhouse gas emission and water footprint estimations in Turkey

Başoğlu Acet, Deniz
The recent studies in literature established a link between diets and several environmental impacts. As the environmental implications of commonly followed diets in Turkey have not been previously studied, the general aim of this study is to estimate the environmental impacts of the average dietary patterns in Turkey from 1960 to 2050 through quantification of water footprint and greenhouse gas emissions and to evaluate the health implications of those dietary patterns. With this exploratory study, all dietary scenarios created were evaluated for their water footprint, using the water footprint assessment methodology and greenhouse gas emissions, using the average Mediterranean greenhouse gas emission factors; which were compiled from life cycle assessment studies in literature. The health implications of the dietary scenarios were qualitatively assessed by using the dietary guidelines and recent epidemiological studies, which provide causal relationships between nutrition and dietary indicators and health outcomes. Moreover, two healthy dietary scenarios were constructed based on the recent Turkey Dietary Guidelines and the Mediterranean recommendations in order to evaluate the environmental and health implications of all dietary scenarios for Turkey. Results of this study showed that the environmental impact of food consumption in Turkey is lower than the environmental impact associated with average European and Mediterranean food consumption. In addition, the future diet-related GHG emissions and water footprint are not expected to exceed the average environmental impacts associated with average diets in Europe or other developed regions. However, the dietary scenarios for the current as well as future food consumption in Turkey did not reveal adherence to nutritional guidelines and resulted in lower health scores in comparison with the dietary guidelines and the Mediterranean Diet. The dietary scenario created based on the dietary guidelines performed best in terms of health implications whereas, it was the most environmentally burdensome dietary scenario. The Mediterranean-based dietary scenario, on the other hand, performed second in terms of health score and it performed best in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and water footprint. In line with other studies, the increasing share of animal-oriented foods in the dietary scenarios increase the associated greenhouse gas and water footprint emissions. This study followed an interdisciplinary approach to combine nutritional and environmental research in order to provide an opportunity to formulate an environmentally friendly, healthy, socially and economically acceptable diet; which corresponds to the sustainable diet for Turkey. Despite all the outlined key limitations in this diet-related environmental study, it is expected to provide a useful basis for future studies in both environment and nutrition in Turkey.