Going Vegan Can Save 8m People, $1t

Going Vegan Can Save 8m People, $1t Going Vegan Can Save 8m People, $1t

By eating less meat and more fruit and vegetables, the world could prevent several million deaths per year by 2050, cut planet-warming emissions substantially, and save billions of dollars annually in healthcare costs and climate damage, researchers said.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is the first to estimate both the health and climate change impacts of a global move towards a more plant-based diet, they said.

“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 big step in the right direction,” said lead author Marco Springmann of the Oxford Martin Program on the Future of Food, NBC News reported.”

Adopting a diet in line with the global guidelines could avert 5.1 million deaths per year by 2050, while 8.1 million fewer people would die in a world of vegans who do not consume animal products, including eggs and milk.

When it comes to climate change, following dietary recommendations would cut food-related emissions by 29%, while adopting vegetarian diets would cut them by 63% and vegan diets by 70%.

Dietary shifts could produce savings of $700 billion to $1 trillion per year on healthcare, unpaid care and lost working days, while the economic benefit of reduced greenhouse gas emissions could be as much as $570 billion, the study found.

The researchers found that three-quarters of all benefits would occur in developing countries, although the per capita impacts of dietary change would be greatest in developed nations, due to higher rates of meat consumption and obesity.

“The value of those benefits makes a strong case for increased public and private spending on programs aimed to achieve healthier and more environmentally sustainable diets,” Springmann said.

But it will not be easy. To achieve a diet that sticks to common guidelines would require a 25% increase in the number of fruits and vegetables eaten globally, and a 56% cut in red meat. Overall, humans would need to consume 15% fewer calories, it said.