To help save the planet, go vegan. A new study suggests that not only does it curb mortality rate but also reduces global emission and climate change, as well as improves health care.
This is the result of the University of Oxford study now published in Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences after the researchers compared the effects of a person's diet by 2050.
The researchers analyzed the impact of eating the usual diet, a diet that follows the general guidelines of less meat and more fruits and vegetables, vegetarianism, and veganism. They found that veganism, a diet that abstains from meat and their products like eggs and milk, may help people live longer with reduced deaths of 8.1 million. A vegan diet can also decrease carbon emissions attributed to the food system by 70 percent.
Although veganism is healthy for the body and the world, it is also hard to maintain with a reported 84 percent of vegans returning to eating meat once again. Besides, "we do not expect everybody to become vegan," said Marco Springmann of Oxford Martin Program on the Future of Food and lead author.
Based on the study, people can still contribute to the world's sustainability by following the dietary recommendations, which can decrease mortality by 5.1 million deaths annually and global emissions by 29 percent. Vegetarianism, which involves the avoidance of meat but the intake of dairy products, can reduce the emissions by 63 percent.
Healthy eating can also help the government save up to $1 trillion annually on both direct and indirect health care costs such as from work absences and unpaid care. Currently, health care expenses increase more than inflation.
Geography is one of the main factors that can determine who benefits the most from dietary shifts. A reduced calorie intake can be most helpful on people living in Western nations like the United States where obesity rate is 34.9 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
However, to maximize these benefits will require overcoming challenges like reducing meat production by 56 percent and increasing supply of fruits and vegetables by 25 percent.
The researchers then proposed "increased public and private spending on programs aimed to achieve healthier and more environmentally sustainable diets," said Springmann.
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