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Vegetarian diet could save millions of lives

A study of the University of Oxford shows that if the whole world goes vegetarian, 7.3 million lives could be saved by 2050.

If the whole world decides from now on to cut out meat and dairy products from its diet, more than 8 million lives would be saved by 2050, according to a study carried out by the University of Oxford. Moreover, it shows that the massive adoption of vegetarian or vegan diets – on a global level – would allow to dramatically reduce CO2 emissions and save huge amounts of money.

 

The analysis has been carried out by a group of researchers of the Martin School, UK, and has been published in the American journal PNAS. “There is huge potential from a health perspective, an environmental perspective and an economic perspective, really,” said study author Marco Springmann.

 

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5 million lives could be saved by cutting down on meat

Researchers have envisaged two different scenarios based on different food choices: the first one takes into consideration the current global food consumption, while the second one considers the recommended food consumption. Therefore, they verified the actual changes if everybody would go vegetarian or vegan.

 

A more balanced diet, with limited meat consumption in favour of fruit and vegetables, would be enough to save 5.1 million lives over the next 35 years. Such figure would rise to 7.3 million with a vegetarian diet, and to 8.1 million with a vegan diet.

 

dieta vegetariana
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Vegetarian diet is eco-friendly

There’s more: cutting down on meat – as explained by a recent study of the Chalmers University of Technology of Göteborg, Sweden – would allow significantly decrease greenhouse gases, contributing to slowing down climate change (which could jeopardise agricultural production, triggering a dramatic vicious circle).

 

According to the University of Oxford, a more balanced diet would be enough to cut the emissions linked to food production by 30 per cent. Such decrease could reach 63 and 70 per cent with a vegetarian or vegan diet respectively.

 

cibo clima dieta vegetariana
©Michel Porro/Newsmakers

Up to a trillion dollars could be saved each year

Both the climate and human health will be benefitted if the whole world carries out changes in food habits. Basically, scientists show that it is needed to increase fruit and vegetables consumption by 25 per cent and cut meat consumption by 56 per cent.

 

This would benefit all countries’ treasuries: the study estimates that – depending on different scenarios – 735 billion dollars to a trillion dollars could be saved every year, due to the fact that many therapies and treatments funded by national healthcare systems would be avoided.

 

©Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

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