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MA Market Analysis


Sustainability assessment of plant-based diets

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Cohort-study on plant-based diets

In Germany, and also worldwide, there is an increased interest in plant-based diets. The sustainability of these plant-based diets, as compared to omnivore diets, is being investigated within the subproject “sustainability analysis” of the COPLANT project (Cohort-Study on Plant-based Diets).

Background and Objective

The last few years, research into plant-based diets and their potential benefits on health and the environment has risen. Previous studies have shown the benefits of moving towards a more plant-based diet, such as the reduction of health risks and a lower carbon footprint. As new plant-based food products such as (highly processed) meat alternatives arise and following the complexity of individual dietary behaviour, the effects of a plant-based diet are however not always straightforward. The COPLANT study will not only provide new insights into the the long term health effects of a plant-based diet; it will also address effects from an environmental, economic and societal perspective. In this way, the study will provide for a comprehensive sustainability assessment of the following dietary patterns: the omnivore (including flexitarian), pescatarian, vegetarian and vegan diet.


Led by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), seven German and one Austrian study centres are involved in the COPLANT study. Across Germany, around 6,000 persons of different ages and genders will take part in the COPLANT study. Dietary intake will be assessed using a dietary intake app called NutriDiary App and a Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ). Additionally, the participants will fill in various questionnaires related to socio-demographics, dietary habits, lifestyle and health. In addition, a qualitative interview will be conducted with a selection of participants. To examine health effects, body composition, bone health and physical activity will be measured, and biosamples (blood tests, as well as urine and stool samples) will be taken. To establish connections between diet and typical widespread diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer, a 20-years follow-up of the participants is planned.

The subproject “sustainability analysis”, where we look at the environmental, economic and societal effects of the dietary patterns, will be taken up by the Max Rubner-Institute (MRI) and the Thünen Institute. The analysis across each of these three dimensions will be supplemented with findings from a health perspective in order to provide for an integrative sustainability assessment.

Preliminary Results

There are currently no results available. 


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