All posts by Elin Röös

New paper on the methodology behind the WWF-vegoguide

How can the environmental impact of plant based foods be evaluated and communicated to consumers?

In a new paper published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, Hanna Potter Karlsson and Elin Röös describe the methodology behind the WWF-vegoguide presented in another blogpost. The guide was developed in cooperation between the researchers and WWF in a process described in the Fig. 1 below. WWF was the project owner and were responsible for the final design decisions regarding aspects such as which products to include, target audience for the guide, evaluation criteria and thresholds. The researchers were responsible for collecting footprint data, test the evaluation criteria, and provided feedback on the design to WWF. Views on the guide from external stakeholders like consumer and trade organizations were consulted in workshops.

Fig. 1
Fig.1. Process of developing the Vego-guide.
From Karlsson Potter and Röös (2020). J of Clean Prod.

The environmental impact categories to include in the evaluation of the foods were selected from the planetary boundaries framework (Steffen et al., 2015) and the mid-point categories of ReCiPe (Huijbregts et al., 2016) based on a set of criteria including their relevance for plant-based products, importance for guiding consumers, availability of scientifically accepted evaluation methods and data availability. Four indicators were finaly chosen: climate impact, biodiversity impact, water and pesticide use. Thresholds for rating the different product as green star, green, yellow and orange were designed to be aliged with the WWF Meat guide and to relate to the absolute food system boundaries as presented in the EAT-Lancet report (Willett et al. 2019). All products were compared on a per kg basis despite their different functions and nutrient content, which instead were considered by applying different thresholds for food groups, e.g. the protein group was allowed a larger share of emission space as these are more demanding to produce and more valuable in diets than carbohydrates.  

Read the full paper here:

“Less but better meat” – what does that mean?

Meat consumption in the Western world has to decrease and meat production practices have to improve. Eating “less but better meat” is a strategy put forward by a number of institutions and organizations as a strategy for increasing the sustainability of diets in high-income settings. But how much is “less” and what is “better”?

In a newly published comment in the Nature Food journal, Elin Röös together with researchers from the Stockholm Resilience Center (SRC) call for greater clarity on these concepts as misuse could steer in an suboptimal direction.

The estimation of “less meat” could be guided by positive and negative health effect of eating meat as well as the amounts of different meats that could fit within climate boundaries or be produced from biomass not suited for human consumption. A first analysis shows that “less meat” would mean a reduction in meat consumption by at least 50% in the Western world regardless of perspective.

As for “better meat” a wide range of issues need to be considered (see figure below). A focus on just one or a few of these can lead to very varying conclusions of what constitutes better meat and risks overlooking important trade-offs. The authors conclude: “Scientific characterization of ‘less but better’ is crucial for enabling more informed discussionon value-laden decisions and to build consensus on the meaning of the concept, especially as it gains traction with civil society organizations and policy makers.

The study:

Sahlin, K.R., Röös, E., Gordon, L. 2020. ‘Less but better’ meat is a sustainability message in need of clarity. Nature Food 1, 520–522 (2020).

Research in this area continues in a project called “Less but better meat” – a joint project between SLU and the SRC.

Nu är WWFs vegoguide ute!

Världsnaturfondern (WWF) Sverige har nu kompletterat sin Fiskguide och Köttguide med Vegoguiden – en guide för att hjälpa konsumenter välja mer hållbart även bland vegoprodukterna. Gruppens Hanna Potter Karlsson och Elin Röös har varit med och tagit fram bakgrundsdata och diskuterat metodutvecklingen med WWF.

De flesta vegetabilier får grönt ljus inklusive grova grönsaker och baljväxter såsom ätror och , rotfrukter och potatis. Se upp dock med nötter, avokado och kokos!

Ny kortkurs om matens klimatpåverkan från Uppsala kommun

Lär med om matens klimatpåverkan i kortkurs från Uppsala kommun och med medverkande forskare Elin Röös.

Uppsala kommun har utvecklat en ny webbkurs om hur man kan göra mer klimartsmarta val vid planering och lagning av mat. Forskare Elin Röös som tillhör Food Systems gruppen deltar i kursen och berättar hur klimatpåverkan från matproduktion uppstår. Kursen syftar till att ge deltagarna ökad kunskap om hur maten vi äter påverkar klimatet, men också att ge konkreta verktyg att använda sig av både i arbetslivet och i privatlivet. Kursen ägs av Uppsala kommun och medfinansieras av statliga Klimatklivet. Kursen ingår i projektet Klimatprofilering av restauranger. Projektet syftar dels till att minska utsläpp av växthusgaser från mat som serveras på restauranger i Uppsala, men också till att göra gäster, personal och privatpersoner mer medvetna om matens klimatpåverkan.

Kursen är nominerad till det prestigefyllda Publishingpriset i kategorin Utbildnings-/Instruktionssajter.