Doctoral StudentDepartment of Food and Nutrition and Sport
About Mari Wollmar
Opportunities and challenges for a shift towards more plant based diets in public and private meals considering climate impact, health aspects and acceptance
The aim of the project is to develop knowledge and methodology to promote sustainable meat consumption in children and adults, including palatability, environmental and nutritional perspectives, increased awareness and knowledge of those who produce meals and those who consume them. In this project CO2-ekv is used for environmental impact while iron nutrition is a proxy for health.
The thesis consists of two parallel approaches, two papers will focus on individuals who today have a greater climate impact, i.e a large proportion of animal protein. The remaining papers focus on public meals in schools. The work to reduce climate impact of meals is already started so here we focus on nutritional content, especially iron. Nutritional value will be calculated to ensure that the products/meals that replace meat have a sufficiently high iron content.
A very important challenge when shifting towards low-meat diets is to secure adequate iron nutrition for those with the highest iron needs. Often neglected in the debate is the high nutritional value of meat and its high content of available iron, which is essential for physical and mental function including learning capabilities. Children, adolescents in growth spurt and women are at a particular risk for poor iron nutrition, even in Sweden, depending on high needs for growth and in women menstrual losses. Secondly, the population groups with the highest needs of iron consume least. Today, there is sparse research based evidence or guidelines on how to best adjust the meat content in meals for groups and individuals without adversely affect nutrition and health status. There is little knowledge about consumer behavior regarding food choices and preference concerning "low-climate impact foods" and health.
There are some initiatives, mainly in the public food service sector, to reduce the climate impact in the food served. Often, meat ingredients are replaced with vegetables and grains (based on soy and/or Quorn) or red meat by poultry. This reduces CO2ekv –emissions radically. However, the iron absorption is much lower in poultry, vegetables and grains compared to red meat. Therefore we risk increased prevalence of iron deficiency and its consequences among children and adolescents if red meat is replaced with vegetarian alternatives without the right knowledge. In Agenda 2030 the goals not only emphasizes the climate impact as part of sustainable development, but also good health in the population, and girls and women's equal conditions.