SCIENTIFIC STUDY | the benefits of a plant-based diet

Updated: Feb 4

A recent study from the University of Otago in New Zealand has explored the wide benefits of eating a plant-based diet.

From reduced greenhouse gas emissions, to greatly improved population health, the study also predicts that a plant-based diet could potentially save the healthcare system billions of dollars in the coming decades.

Otago medical student and the lead researcher in the study, Jono Drew, explained that the global food system in its current state was a major contributor to the current climate crisis as well as the uptick in chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

The research team investigated the "life cycle" of several different foods commonly eaten in New Zealand, developing an emissions database that examined the farming and processing, transportation, packaging, warehouse and distribution, and refrigeration needs of each food. Equipped with this database, the team was able to model climate, health, and health system cost impacts across varying diets.

Results showed that greenhouse gas emissions varied considerably, with the animal-based diet having a significantly higher climate impact than a diet comprising of whole plant-based foods such as legumes, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Ultimately, with a population-level dietary shift, the study showed a potential annual emissions savings of between 4% to 42%, possible health gains of 1-1.5million quality-adjusted life years, and $14-20 billion savings to the local health system over the lifetime of the current population.

A more recent study from Penn State determined that a plant-based diet was also a pivotal key to reducing a person's risk of heart disease. Protein-rich diets are high in sulfur amino acids - which occur in protein-rich foods such as meats, dairy, nuts, and soy - are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The Penn State study research team found that the average American consumed close to 2.5 times the estimated average human requirement of sulfur amino acids.

via Science Daily

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