The aim of this study was to determine the environmental impact, nutrient intake, appreciation and tastiness of three buffet-style lunches served at the workplace, consisting of (1) animal-based foods; (2) plant-based foods; and (3) both animal-based and plant-based foods. Employees of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands participated in the study. Participants scored the lunch for appreciation and tastiness (scores from 1 to 10). Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and land use associated with foods consumed were calculated using life cycle assessments. Nutrient intake was calculated using food composition data. The results show that both the plant-based and the combination lunch received higher scores for tastiness than the animal-based lunch. GHG emissions and land use were lowest for the plant-based lunch and highest for the animal-based lunch. The combination lunch was associated with increased fiber and decreased saturated fat intake compared to the animal-based lunch, but also lead to increased energy intake. The plant-based lunch did not increase energy intake, while increasing fiber intake and decreasing sodium (salt) and saturated fat intakes. These initial results show that plant-based lunches have the potential to improve nutrient intake and tastiness while reducing environmental impact. Additional research in this field is worthwhile.
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