A recent study by the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food found that by eating less meat with more fruits and vegetables, the world could prevent as many as 8 million deaths per year by 2050.
The savings would come from cutting planet-warming gas emissions, saving billions in healthcare costs related to poor eating habits, and rectifying climate damage caused by meat production. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and is a pioneer in deep exploration of both health and climate-change impacts of plant-based diets.
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"What we eat greatly influences our personal health, and the global environment," lead author Marco Springmann of the Oxford Martin Program on the Future of Food explained to NBC News. The study notes that adopting a diet in line with global diet guidelines could avert 5.1 million deaths per year by 2050, and up to 8.1 million deaths could be prevented in a world of vegans.
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Achieving the lighter of the two diets studied, a 25 percent increase in the number of fruits and vegetables eaten globally, and a 56 percent cut in red-meat consumption would need to take place.
"We do not expect everybody to become vegan," Springmann added. "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 large step in the right direction."
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