One Dietary Change That Could Help Save the Planet

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Did you know that you could have a significant impact on the health of the planet, just by making one, simple dietary change? Here’s how you can help cut greenhouse gas emissions, just by adjusting the way you eat.

We all love a big juicy steak, right? And there’s no reason you shouldn’t have one (as long as it is responsibly raised) – once in a while…. But far too many of us eat far too much meat, and it is impacting not just our health but the health of the planet.

The majority of food-related greenhouse gas emissions comes from livestock, and some scientists have estimated that if we all began eating just within dietary guidelines for meat consumption, it would cut worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 29%.

However, instead of cutting back, many countries are actually increasing their meat consumption, as they seek to consume a more Westernized diet.

Want to help curb emissions, reduce water pollution, improve the health of our oceans, and even lose weight? Just make one simple dietary change, and, as Michael Pollan says, “Eat real food – mostly plants.”

Do you have to go Vegan? No (in fact, that comes with its own set of environmental problems), but cutting back your meat consumption to once or twice a week would go a long way towards creating a more sustainable lifestyle.

This article shares some interesting statistics on the impact that our diet has on the health of the planet – and of ourselves.

“Eat real food…mostly plants,” Michael Pollan has written. Now, an Oxford University study out today confirms once again that this advice might not only extend our lifespans, but it also has huge repercussions for the planet and the global economy.

If everyone ate less meat and other animal products and followed guidelines already recommended for healthy eating—more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains and less meat, salt, and sugar—it would reduce global mortality by up to 10 percent and reduce food-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions between 29 and 70 percent, based on predictions for the year 2050, write Marco Springmann and colleagues in their paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And, for the first time, they have directly linked what people eat to both health and environmental outcomes and the economic costs of those outcomes.

Making these changes, the study estimates, could also save up to $31 trillion, thanks to fewer damaging environmental impacts, reduced healthcare costs, lost work time, and premature deaths worldwide. In fact, the dollar value of these health improvements would be comparable to—or perhaps larger than—those of the environmental benefits.

We’ve heard similar messages before—that meat-heavy diets contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and that shifting to less carbon– and nitrogen-intensive plant-based meals could help curb climate change. We’ve also been told that eating less meat and more produce will help reduce cardiovascular disease, obesity, and related health problems, including diabetes.

But what Springmann, a post-doctoral researcher in Oxford’s Department of Population Health, and colleagues have done is look specifically at how much we need to reduce meat and other animal-sourced foods, and just how much more produce we need to eat to improve both the environmental and our health. The study also shows how much eating patterns differ around the world and the varying degrees to which diets would have to shift to produce environmental and health benefits.

Check out the full article at CivilEats.com


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