Everyone knows that cutting down meat consumption can save your health. But did you know that it could save the planet?
A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has shown that widespread adoption of a vegan diet would significantly reduce mortality and greenhouse gas emissions.
The Oxford University researchers modeled the effects that four different diets would have on the planet by the year 2050: our current diet with a rising demand for meat; a diet conforming to global guidelines including a minimum of fruits and vegetables and restrictions on red meat, sugar, and total calories; a vegetarian diet; and a vegan diet.
Researchers found that worldwide adoption of a vegan diet could save 8.1 million lives that would typically be lost to conditions like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. But the benefits of veganism don’t stop there. Livestock alone accounts for more than 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions. A vegan diet could cut those emissions by 70%.
Putting this in terms of money, changing our dietary lifestyle could save $1 trillion annually by preventing health care costs and losses in productivity. If we put an economic value on lost life, $30 trillion annual would be saved by adopting a vegan diet. Also, we could avoid the economic losses resulting from extreme weather events that could result from climate change.
As it stands, our desire for meat puts incredible pressure on the food and land systems. It is literally killing us, and harming the planet. By adopting a healthier and more environmentally sustainable diet, we could make a significant impact on climate change.
While you may not be ready to become fully vegan, incorporating “Meatless Mondays” into your eating habits might be a good way to start lessening your personal impact on climate change. Your body and the planet will thank you.