Alexandros Gasparatos, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

Presentation Title: Diet changes in Tokyo and their environmental impact




Japan has experienced a radical dietary transition since the 1960s, which involved large increases in meat consumption. The increasing domestic meat demand contributed significantly to the intensification of the Japanese livestock production system. Considering that urbanization has been a key driver of this transition, the aim of this study was to explore the environmental consequences of Tokyo's increased appetite for meat.  By analyzing secondary data collected from national and local authorities, it quantified the amount of land and the natural capital (quantified as emergy) that was appropriated in different parts of Japan to cater for the meat consumed in Tokyo. The results show that significant amounts of land and natural capital have been appropriated in areas close to Tokyo. In 2010, approximately 40% and 50% of the natural capital appropriated for producing respectively the beef and pork consumed in Tokyo was appropriated in the Kanto area (essentially Tokyo's peri-urban area). These results imply that despite Tokyo being a global city, it still relies heavily on its adjacent areas for the meat it consumes. Consequently, the application of emissions factors calculated by life-cycle analyses of Japanese livestock production systems shows how such diet shifts can be responsible for an important fraction of greenhouse gas emissions from the city.

Key Lessons Learned

It is possible to locate the areas where the food consumed in cities is produced and quantify associated environmental burdens. However, it may not be possible for all food commodities, particularly bulk commodities and commodities that are dominating the food processing industries (e.g., vegetable oils, corn, wheat, soy, sugar, etc.).