The Chinese government’s newest dietary guidelines cut the recommended meat consumption by half.  A press conference was held in Beijing on Monday that included health and climate change experts stressing the importance of this lifestyle change and encouraging more than one billion citizens to adopt it.

It looks like China gets it!  Not only do they agree with the mounting evidence supporting a plant-based or even a predominately plant-based diet, but they are doing their part to promote it.  Education and increased awareness are the first steps in the fight to save our planet and improve our quality of life.  Assuming residents take notice and indeed follow the new guidelines, a few resulting benefits could include:

Increased Human Health/Decreased Healthcare Costs
Study after study shows that a mostly plant-based diet lowers blood pressure, cholesterol and even the possibility of some cancers.  Multiple reasons account for this, including the amount of residual antibiotics consumed in a diet heavy in meat/dairy, as well as carcinogenic compounds formed while cooking it.  And not just beef; this includes pork, chicken and fish.  A country that encourages less meat consumption could expect better health overall.  Healthier people have lower healthcare costs.  It’s a win-win situation.
Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Maybe it was China’s latest and grim scientific assessment of global warming that sparked the need for change.  Regardless, it’s a fact that the largest producer of non-CO2 GHG emissions is agriculture.  Attacking this area is a natural step to making progress.  Over one billion people eating less than half its usual consumption of meat reduces this impact greatly.  Imagine if the rest of the world did the same.
It takes roughly 100 times more water to produce one pound of beef as it does to grow one pound of grain.  And due to pesticides and nitrates found in manure that runs off into our water supplies, the EPA sites agriculture as a main water pollutant.  With so much water scarcity in the world, reducing meat production simply makes the most sense.
Reduces Animal Suffering

There are countless reasons why becoming vegetarian, vegan or even making a conscious yet simple effort to reduce your meat/dairy intake will benefit you individually and the world as a whole.  And while science consistently shows that the long term effects of not making any changes will cause us much suffering in the future, it is the animals who shoulder the burden now.  Factory farming is essentially hell on earth for these gentle, sentient beings.  You don’t have to be an animal rights activist to feel compassion for another living being. China veering in the direction of less meat is helping to stop animal cruelty and that’s something to cheer for in any country.

Decreasing meat consumption or adopting a plant-based diet entirely is the easiest individual step we can take to combat global warming, ensure our health, and reduce animal suffering.  Educating the public on the benefits of eating less meat is the easiest and — possibly most effective — way to ensure lasting change.
The Chinese government has now started a campaign to endorse their recommendations and have brought in American celebrities Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron to help.  Both have starred in a public service announcement asking the public to eat less meat in order to help the environment and increase their health.  Kudos to the Chinese government and to American celebrities willing to take the lead in the fight!

 For more on this topic read: First Mammal Goes Extinct Due to Climate Change