Vegetarian and vegan diets are best for the environment and human health, according to research published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Researchers assessed several regional models that incorporated environmental, economic and health impacts associated with a dietary change in the future. Diets compared included proportional reduction in animal products, reduced or meat-free diets, and diets based on current health standards. A shift to a plant-based diet projected reductions in global mortality and greenhouse gases caused by food production by 10 percent and 70 percent, respectively, compared with a control scenario set in 2050. A global dietary shift would save an estimated 79 million human lives and avoid 5.1 million deaths per year. Estimates for a completely vegan diet project closer to 129 million lives saved and 8.1 million deaths avoided. These projections also saw trillions of dollars saved in health care costs by 2050.
- Springmann M, Godfray HCJ, Rayner M, Scarborough P. Analysis and valuation of the health and climate change cobenefits of dietary change. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Published online March 21, 2016.