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Vegan Diets Lead The Way Against Climate Change

vegan climate change diet nutrition

Dietary change, not climate change, is the name of the game if you're looking to save the planet. If you want to avert climate change it helps to go vegan according to new research. Eating a standard diet, or eating vegetarian has some positive benefits on the planet too.


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The agricultural system is responsible for more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions and unhealthy diets and obesity are among the greatest contributors to premature death. A new study looks at and compares health and climate change benefits by making global dietary changes for all major world regions. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is the first to look at both dietary health and climate change and the impact of eating a more plant-based diet.

Researchers from Oxford University modeled the effects of four different diets: a 'business as usual' scenario; one that follows global guidelines including minimum amounts of fruits and vegetables and limits on red meat, sugar and total calories; a vegetarian diet; and a vegan diet.

Better Diets Save Lives In More Ways Than One

Researchers concluded that adopting a diet in line with the global guidelines could avert 5.1 million deaths per year by 2050. Remarkably, 8.1 million fewer people would die in a world of vegans who avoid animal products, including eggs and milk.

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Dietary Change, Not Climate Change

When it comes to climate change, eating the standard diet recommendations would cut food-related emissions by 29%, adopting vegetarian diets would cut them by 63% and vegan diets would cut them down by 70%.

Therefore, eating a plant-based diet could save a whooping $700 billion to $1 trillion per year on healthcare, unpaid care and lost workdays. The economic benefit of reduced greenhouse gas emissions could be as much as $570 billion, the study found.

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“Transitioning toward more plant-based diets that are in line with standard dietary guidelines could reduce global mortality by 6–10% and food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 29–70% compared with a reference scenario in 2050.

Not surprisingly, researchers found that three-quarters of all the dietary change benefits would occur in developing countries, but the biggest impacts of dietary change would occur in developed countries, due to the already high and escalating rates of meat consumption and obesity.

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A Stitch In Time Saves Nine For Climate Watchers

Inevitably, we will save more by dietary change than we will with climate change since, economically health improvements could be comparable with, and possibly larger than, the value of prevention – in this case, from climate change, researchers said.

No, You Don’t Have To Become Vegan

"We do not expect everybody to become vegan," said lead author Marco Springmann of the Oxford Martin Program on the Future of Food.

But if they did, the world would be a better place. The choices we make about the food we eat affect our health and have major ramifications for the state of the environment."