A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America examines the health and climate change impacts of a world wide turn toward a plant based diet.
Lead author Marco Springmann of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food told Reuters that unbalanced diets are responsible for the greatest health burdens felt around the world.
"What we eat greatly influences our personal health and the global environment," he said.
Switching to a plant based diet could change many things for the better, Reuters reports. Eating more fruits and vegetables and less meat would avoid 5.1 million deaths per year by 2050. A vegetarian diet would cut food-related emissions by 63 percent. The reduced greenhouse gas emissions as a result of a global plant based diet could save as much as $570 billion per year. The shift to a plant based diet could also save up to $1,000 billion per year on health care, unpaid care and lost working day.
Researchers also found that changing diets would impact regions differently, with three-quarters of the benefits happening in developing countries.
"We do not expect everybody to become vegan," Springmann told Reuters. "But climate change impacts of the food system will be hard to tackle and likely require more than just technological changes. Adopting healthier and more environmentally sustainable diets can be a large step in the right direction."
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