An online tool calculates the carbon footprint of classic Czech meals

Traditional dishes like beef guláš and svíčková na smetaně score the highest for environmental impact.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 15.02.2022 16:56:00 (updated on 15.02.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

The traditional Czech diet is known for being heavy on meat and light on vegetables. But meat, especially beef, has a high impact on the environment when compared to plant-based foods. As more and more Czechs rethink dietary choices in an effort to reduce environmental impact, an online tool can help calculate metrics that argue for going meat-free.

The online tool Nutriční stopa (nutritional footprint) shows the relative impact of some popular Czech dishes, and also allows users to enter their own recipes. The meals are ranked from one to five, with five having the most impact.

The aim of the project is to help people find a more sustainable lifestyle. The calculator's methodology is based on research done at Charles University,

The biggest offenders were two of the most iconic Czech dishes: beef guláš with bread dumplings and svíčková na smetaně (beef sirloin in cream sauce). These both maxed out the calculator at five. Slightly better, karbanátky se šťouchanými brambory (meat patties with mashed potatoes) earned a four.

According to the calculator, even switching from pork to beef makes a big difference, with a pork cutlet and potato salad scoring 2.2 and pork stew with pasta scoring 2.0.

While the situation for vegetarian eating in the Czech Republic has improved, many long-timers remember when the only dish on the pub menu was fried cheese and potatoes. That classic scores a two, while fried cauliflower and potatoes, another blast from the past, is slightly better at 1.28.

 The group Proveg international challenges people to try a vegetarian or vegan diet for one month. They calculate that in terms of CO2 output, going vegan for 30 days saves the equivalent of what a car would produce if it was driven 510 kilometers. Being vegetarian for the same time would equal 360 kilometers.

“The livestock industry is one of the world's leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The greenhouse gas emissions produced by the meat industry are even higher than all direct emissions from cars, buses, planes, and trains combined,” Proveg states.

Research from Charles University in 2018 showed that about 9 percent of Czechs eat meat less than once a week or not at all. Of those who do not eat any meat, 20 percent said the environmental impact was the reason. That same research showed that people in the Czech Republic have an average carbon footprint of 7.8 metric tons of CO 2 equivalent per year, with food accounting for 13 percent or about one ton of CO2 per person per year.

A study in 2020 by polling agency Ipsos showed that 28 percent of people plan to reduce meat intake, while 4 percent – mostly people under age 44 – are vegan or vegetarian. There is also a gender divide, with 82 percent of men and 77 percent of women eating meat at least once a week.

Flexitarians, people who still eat some meat products but try to limit them as much as possible, now account for 21 percent of the Czech population, according to a more recent survey conducted for the Czech Vegan Society.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more