The importance of eggs in an environmentally sustainable diet

Mason P. August 2023. The importance of eggs in an environmentally sustainable diet. Nutrition Bulletin. doi: ​​​​​10.1111/nbu.12632


Food and diet globally have a significant environmental impact. Whilst there is broad agreement on the principles underpinning a healthy, sustainable diet, the interpretation of what it might mean in practice is widely debated. Misconceptions are common, including around the environmental impact of eggs and their place in a healthy, sustainable diet. Eggs are often categorised with other animal proteins such as beef, lamb, poultry, meat and dairy when reporting on the potential environmental impact of food and diets. However, the shift towards more planet-friendly diets demands a clear understanding of the evidence base on which such a diet should be based. This review evaluates scientific reports and peer-reviewed articles that have evaluated the environmental impact of hens' eggs in terms of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs), and land and water use and compared the impacts of eggs with those of other animal and plant proteins. This overview shows that eggs are responsible for less carbon, land and water use than other animal proteins, particularly beef and only slightly more than most plant proteins. Eggs are a nutritious, convenient and relatively inexpensive food, which traditionally has had an important place in the diet both in the United Kingdom and globally. It is therefore important to understand where they fit in terms of environmental impact and into advice on healthier, more sustainable dietary patterns.