Environmental Nutrition

Examining the interrelationships between our food choices, our environment and our health.

Recently Published by Lead Researcher

We are delighted to announce the publication of Dr. Sabaté’s new book Environmental Nutrition: Connecting Health and Nutrition with Environmentally Sustainable Diets. It is now available to purchase.  Environmental Nutrition explores the interrelatedness of diet, environmental sustainability, and human health, as well as potential solutions to these global challenges. Sixteen chapters cover the background and challenges we face to find a sustainable food system that can feed a growing population while protecting the environment we must share. Contributors include top environemental and nutrition scientist from around the globe. Click on the book to see your buying options at Amazon.

Environmental Nutrition at LLUSPH

Environmental Nutrition is currently the focus of an interdisciplinary academic research group at the School of Public Health, Loma Linda University. The information on our website is relevant to students, researchers, not for profit organizations and other interested groups.

What is environmental nutrition?

Environmental Nutrition emerged from a recognition that the complex interactions within the food system related to health and environment need to be considered simultaneously. Environmental Nutrition goes beyond the scope of current discussions on sustainable diets and systematically considers the interrelationships within food systems to necessarily incorporate a complete understanding. Nourishing a growing population while balancing what the Earth can provide and absorb is increasingly recognized as a major global challenge.  The conventional food system threatens our health and overall well-being with increased air and water pollution, toxic chemical exposure, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, soil erosion, climate change inducing greenhouse gas emissions, and loss of biodiversity. Widely held consensus among medical and public health professionals finds that today’s typical ‘diet of affluence’ contributes to a range of costly health problems, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and dementia, other neurodegenerative disorders, and various kinds of cancer.  Environmental nutrition, therefore, is a useful tool for critically analyzing the wide-reaching environmental, social, and health impacts of industrial agriculture.

What are sustainable diets?

By definition, a ‘sustainable’ diet should use resources without exhausting or destroying them, and hence should be able to be sustained in the long term. This includes staying within the Earth’s biophysical capacity, i.e. what the planet can sustain in terms of resource provision and absorption of wastes, including greenhouse gas emissions. The growing body of research on sustainable diets has been recognized by a variety of international bodies including the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The FAO define sustainable diets as “those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimizing natural and human resources.” The food system is currently a major contributor to severe environmental problems, such as biodiversity loss and climate change. This contribution is envisaged to increase, given the global shift in food consumption patterns towards the ‘western’ palette of high animal products. Addressing consumption patterns, food waste and resource intensive methods of agricultural production are considered crucial for enabling wide scale adoption of sustainable diets.

Who we are

The environmental nutrition team brings together a wide range of experience, skills and specialties. As a core strength, the team combines a range of disciplines including epidemiology, nutrition, environmental health, biology, and environmental science. Our skills include environmental assessment, food life cycle assessment, statistical analysis, and Geographical Information Systems applications.

Joan Sabate, MD, DrPH

Joan Sabate, MD, DrPH

Joan has a doctoral degree in public health nutrition, and has worked in the area of Environmental Nutrition for over 10 years. He has a broad, multidisciplinary background including nutrition, epidemiology, and statistics. He was Chair of the nutrition department at Loma Linda University for 17 years and led many research projects to completion. Currently, Joan is the co-Director of the Environmental Nutrition research program at Loma Linda University. More>>

Andrew Berardy, PhD

Andrew Berardy, PhD

Andrew is a postdoctoral fellow working in our group. He has a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree, both in International Studies. He has a Doctor of Philosophy in Sustainability, which was focused on sustainable food systems and plant-based diets. His research evaluates all stages of the life cycle of food. After working as a postdoctoral researcher studying the food-energy-water nexus and food waste at Arizona State University, he joined the Environmental Nutrition team as a postdoctoral fellow at Loma Linda University to examine links between environmental and health impacts of foods in the Adventist Health Study-2, among other research and teaching efforts. 

Ujué Fresán

Ujué Fresán

Ujue is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher in our group. She has wide formation in different fields of the life sciences. She has a degree on Pharmacy, done in University of Navarra (Spain), being nominated for the best student in Pharmacy degree 2005-2010. After that, she did a Masters in Public Health. During this period, she designed a theoretical project to be carried out in a medical centre in order to decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases on the elderly, awarded with the best mark. After that, she did a PhD in Biomedicine, in the Molecular Biology Institute of Barcelona, belonging to the state-dependent Superior Council of Scientific Research (CSIC). From then on, she has been working as a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, in the University of Navarra, analyzing data from the cohort study of the SUN project. Apart from analyzing relationships between nutritional aspects and different chronic diseases´ risk, she has been working on environmental footprints of diets. Apart from that, she has been coordinating a PhD project in Barcelona related to Predimed-Plus, been responsible of doing the training of field workers and collecting data

Previous Members
  • Sam Soret, PhD
    Dr. Sam Soret was a founder of the environmental nutrition project. He was an environmental health scientist with a broad background in biology, air quality and public health, with specific training and expertise in medical geography and spatial analysis. He served as Director of the School’s Center for Community Resilience and as Associate Dean for Research. His key interests focused on the interrelations between agriculture, the food system and climate change. Sam was the co-Director of the Environmental Nutrition research program at Loma Linda University. Sam passed away in August 2016, but his positive impact on the climate still lives on.
  • Helen Harwatt, PhD
    Helen was an Environmental Nutrition research fellow at the Loma Linda University. For more than a decade, Helen has contributed to numerous environmental sustainability projects, with an emphasis on the climate change mitigation potential of behavioral change. Helen’s key interests focus on the potential contribution of sustainable diets to climate change mitigation, and assessing the sustainability of food systems from both environmental and nutritional perspectives, simultaneously.
  • Alfredo Mejia, DrPH
    Alfredo currently serves as Associate Professor at the Department of Public Health, Nutrition and Wellness, Andrews University. As part of the environmental nutrition team, he leads the life cycle assessment component. Alfredo is an expert user of the leading life cycle assessment software for professionals, SimaPro. He is currently leading the life cycle assessment of a large range of meat substitute products, including the data collection and analysis.
  • William Ripple, PhD
    William is a Distinguished Professor of Ecology at Oregon State University, specializing in carnivores, mammal ecology, and biodiversity conservation. Additionally, he is an adjunct professor in Environmental Nutrition at Loma Linda University’s School of Public Health. He is a widely published researcher, lecturer, and prominent international figure in the field of ecology. Dr. Ripple also studies and publishes research about the environmental and climate effects of livestock and human carnivory (meat eating by humans).

What we offer

Our key specialty services

Assessing the sustainability of food systems.

Environmental sustainability and nutritional analysis of dietary patterns and foods, including plant-based alternatives to meat.

Seminars/lectures on sustainable diets/food systems.

Analysis of the food system in relation to climate change mitigation targets, resilience and food security.

Fellowships in Environmental Nutrition


There is substantial evidence linking agricultural production and environmental degradation. Growing public awareness of various environmental issues such as global warming, toxic residues in food, and biodiversity loss has brought about a call for sustainable food production practices. Against a backdrop of an increasing world population, a key issue in future food supply is that, even in well-endowed areas, there are limits to the impact that the natural and human systems of the environment can tolerate. Thus, daily food choices by large segments of the population can ultimately result in an effect on the environment and may have public health consequences. Moreover, it has been suggested that global climate change will alter agricultural productivity across wide geographic areas, decreasing food security and resulting in changes in population food patterns.

Doctoral Programs

The first Environmental Nutrition doctorate project was completed in 2006 on the natural resource requirements of dietary choices in California. There are many Environmental Nutrition topics that could be covered through doctoral studies. The program could incorporate natural and environmental sciences, nutrition and/or epidemiology. Students could study for a DrPH or a PhD and be based in the School of Public Health and/or the Department of Earth and Biological Sciences. If you are interested, please contact Dr. Sujatha Rajaram: srajaram@llu.edu.

Postdoctoral Fellowship

The environmental nutrition postdoctoral fellowship began in 2008. Activities have included data collection on the environmental impacts of foods, analysis of dietary patterns and writing journal articles. The award is for one year, with renewal for a second year upon successful completion of first year goals, and carries a stipend of $49,920 per year with an additional $3,000 per year for research expenses. The focus of this Fellowship Program is the interrelation among food, environment and public health. It is specifically designed to investigate the impact of food production, processing, distribution and consumption on the environment and public health. This position will focus on research and writing. A schedule of research topics and activities will be designed in line with the Environmental Nutrition agenda.


Candidates interested in applying to the fellowship program must have a doctoral degree in a field related to the area of interest, such as environmental health, nutrition, food science, epidemiology, biology, ecology, sociology, or economics. Candidates must also have an interest in inter- and trans-disciplinary research and, ideally, a strong background or training experience in public health or in two or more of the disciplines listed above. A working knowledge of vegetarian nutrition will be helpful. Candidates should possess proven quantitative skills as well as professional English writing skills. International applicants are welcome to apply. US citizenship is not required.

How to apply

How to Apply for the Postdoctoral Fellowship in Environmental Nutrition

Step 1

Read the entire webpage at www.environmentalnutrition.org and watch the three videos that are embedded.

 Step 2

Read these seven articles available through links at the environmental nutrition webpage:

For Background

  • Sabaté J, Harwatt H, Soret S. Environmental Nutrition: A new frontier for public health. Am J Public Health 2016; 106:815-21
  • Sabaté J and Soret S. (2014) Sustainability of plant-based diets: Back to the future. Am J Clin Nutr 100:476S-482S.

For Current Research

  • Ujue Fresan, Helen Harwatt, Joan Sabaté. Developing a methodology for estimating transport related CO2 emissions for food commodities. J Sustain Dev 2018 DOI:10.5539/jsd.vlln6p47.
  • Harwatt H, Sabaté J, Eshel G, Soret S, Ripple W. Substituting beans for beef as a contribution toward US climate change targets. Climate change (2017)143:261.
  • Marlow H, Harwatt H, Soret S, Sabaté J. Comparing the water, energy, pesticide and fertilizer usage for the production of foods consumed by different dietary types in California. Pub Health Nutr 2015;18(13)2425-32.
  • Sabaté J, Sranacharoenpong K, Harwatt H, Wien M, Soret S. (2015) The environmental cost of protein food choices Pub Health Nutr 18(11)2067-73.
  • Soret S, Mejia A, Batech M, Jaceldo-Siegl K, Harwatt H, Sabaté J. (2014) Climate change mitigation and health effects of varied dietary patterns in real-life settings throughout North America. Am J Clin Nutr 100:476S-82S.

Step 3

If, after reading the material outlined above you think you would be interested in advancing the science of environmental nutrition, please send the following materials to Janice Hilton in the Center for Nutrition, Healthy Lifestyles and Disease Prevention at jhilton@llu.edu:

  • Current CV with a cover letter. The cover letter should be no more than two pages long and should briefly describe the candidate’s interest in the topic of environmental nutrition, outlining experience and the relationship between completed doctoral studies and postdoctoral goals. Please include your current contact information in the letter or CV.
  • Contact information for three references including email addresses and phone numbers. Please identify your relationship with each contact.
  • At least one sample of scientific writing. The candidate must be either first author or the author who completed the initial draft of the manuscript.  Published articles are preferred but not mandatory.

Letters of interest will be accepted until the position is filled. This appointment can begin as early as September 1 or as late as December 31, 2019.

Publications & Projects


Current projects

Current Projects

Environmental and health assessment of dietary patterns within the Adventist Health Study We have privileged access to the Adventist Health Study data, which contains longitudinal health and dietary information for more than 96,000 individuals. This allows us to simultaneously assess the health and environmental outcomes related to diverse dietary patterns. We consider this line of inquiry to be our unique niche.

Environmental impacts and nutritional assessment of plant-based meat alternatives We have proprietary production data from 3 manufacturers for more than 70 products that are designed to replace meat in the diet. For each product, we are assessing the environmental impacts and nutritional qualities. Life cycle assessment software (SimaPro) is being used to estimate the inputs (water, energy and land) and outputs (greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution and acidification), for each product.

View the groundbreaking paper that proposes Environmental Nutrition: A new frontier for Public Health. Published online, March 17th 2016. Abstract. See the paper in the May 2016 print issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

View the groundbreaking paper that proposes Environmental Nutrition: A new frontier for Public Health. Published online, March 17th 2016. Abstract. See the paper in the May 2016 print issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Media Coverage

Environmental Nutrition articleGQ – The Easiest Way to Fight Climate Change Might Be to Eat More Beans. Antarctica is melting; summer temperatures are rising; coral reefs are dying; and all your non-trump-supporting friends are probably freaking out about the increasingly terrifying reality that is climate change. Read more

Huffington post article on Environmental NutritionHuffington Post- The Vegan Argument. Can we say whether or not a well balanced, vegan diet is BEST for human health? I will tell you the answer momentarily, but first- reasons for posing the question now. Read more

Vice article environmental nutrition Loma Linda University school of public healthVice – Study Says Beans Actually Make Us Less Gassy than Meat. Thanks to researchers at Loma Linda University, we can now really put our proteins in perspective and deal with this stark reality: if Americans were to sub beans in for beef, the US would “immediately” reach 50 to 75 of its reduced greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) targets for 2020. Read more

Popular Science Environmental Nutrition Loma Linda University School of Public HealthPopular Science- Replacing beef with beans could save the planet, because people farts are better than cow farts. There’s an old childhood ditty about eating beans that starts off “beans, beans, they’re good for your heart,” and ends with a snicker-inducing line about their other well-known effects — (rhymes with “heart”). Read more

Fast Company Environmental Nutrition article Loma Linda University school of public healthFast Company – Eating Beans Could Be A Magical Solution To Climate Change. There is a cause of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that nobody likes to talk about, and it is cow farts. In a single day, a lone cow can fill a 55-gallon bag with methane-laden gas–methane being a GHG as much as 30 times more damaging than carbon dioxide–and at least 1.5 billion cows roam the planet. The meat and dairy industry accounts for as much as 15% of global emissions. Read more


Contact us

Contact us

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Email: envnutrition@llu.edu Phone: Laura Moore (Administrative Analyst) 909 558 8750 (extension 88750) Mail: Laura Moore, 1202 Nichol Hall, School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, 24951 North Circle Drive, Loma Linda, California 92350, USA.

Environmental Nutrition at LLUSPH