New study reaffirms: Meat is bad for you and the planet

meat

How many times do people need to be told that raising cows, pigs, and other livestock accounts for much of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions?

How many times do people need to be told that eliminating meat from their diets can make them healthier?

Apparently, the answer to both questions is “a crapton”, because demand for animal-based food products is skyrocketing.

Thankfully, that hasn’t kept researchers from publishing new data that shows the many benefits of going vegan:

If people in developed countries such as the U.S. were to eat less red meat and move steadily toward a vegetarian or vegan diet, they could live longer while helping to slash greenhouse gas emissions from food production by between 29 and 70% by 2050, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences….

While the study does not break new ground in noting the climate benefits of moving away from meat and toward a plant-based diet, it does succeed in tying those climate benefits to human health.

Growing food — especially meat — has a huge impact on the climate, mainly in the form of deforestation and livestock methane emissions. More than 25% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions come from food production and consumption, of which 80% come from raising livestock.

The study, led by study co-author Marco Springmann, a postdoctoral researcher at Oxford University, compared four global food consumption and emissions scenarios. The first was a United Nations projection for what people are likely to be eating over the next 35 years — an extension of today’s dietary trends. That “business as usual” scenario assumes that global caloric intake will increase by 13% between 2005 and 2050, which includes large increases in poultry, red meat and grain consumption.The research shows that those emissions are set to increase 51% through 2050 because of increased global food consumption — from 7.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent in 2005 to 11.4 billion tons in 2050. The world’s population, which is 7.3 billion today, is estimated to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, according to United Nations projections.

 

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