Australia: Ausveg slams produce eco footprint study
The source of the commotion was a study carried out by Carnegie Mellon University in the U.S., with the official press release entitled "Vegetarian and "Healthy" Diets Could Be More Harmful to the Environment"
Earlier this week Fresh Fruit Portal published an editorial analyzing the study data and highlighting the misleading nature of the findings, and now Australian vegetable grower body Ausveg has joined the fight.
The group said the reports were 'misguided' and failed to consider the benefits that vegetables provide consumers.
It added the researchers had distanced themselves from the sensational claims, which have been attributed to a PR department.
"News reports that attempt to demonise vegetable consumption and those who make healthy lifestyle choices are detrimental to consumers and threaten to endanger public health," Ausveg spokesperson Shaun Lindhe said.
"The most recent example comes from reporting of a US study that suggests lettuce is worse for the environment than bacon. Not only does this line of reporting fail to take into account the health benefits that come from eating vegetables and fruit, the words lettuce and bacon do not even appear in the report!"
"Lettuce is a fantastic source of vitamins, minerals and water for rehydration, which are all important for a healthy heart and immune system. With the recent spell of warm weather sweeping through southern Australia, consumers should be encouraged to eat more vegetables, not be misled by sensationalised reporting."
Researchers from the university modelled the environmental impact of three different diet scenarios: reduced calorie intake and unchanged food choices; current calorie intake and changed food choices; and reduced calorie intake and changed food choices in accordance to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommendations.
These scenarios were measured against changes in energy use, blue water footprint and greenhouse gas.
"By only taking into account calorie intake and ignoring the wider nutritional benefits of lettuce that myriad research has proven time and time again, the basic facts of maintaining a heathy lifestyle have been ignored," Lindhe said.
"Vegetables are just one part of a healthy diet and lifestyle that includes fruit, nuts, lean meat and exercise. Focusing on calories and making attention-grabbing claims that bacon is a better alternative than lettuce risks undermining the benefits that eating a vegetable-rich diet can have for consumers."
"Scores of research from around the world continues to detail the enormous health benefits of eating vegetables. Suggesting vegetables are not healthy – whether it is for consumers or Mother Nature – condemns vegetables and is detrimental to public health."