People turn to veganism for many benefits. Two of the top reasons are the environmental impact and the impact on health.
Two new studies published by research teams from different parts of the world found the same impactful results on how a vegan diet can help the environment and your health.
A study conducted by the University of Oxford suggests that adopting a vegan diet could reduce the environmental impact of our food choices. This study was published in Nature Food and is considered one of the most exhaustive analyses of its kind.
Led by the Livestock, Environment, and People (LEAP) project, this study found that diets rich in plant-based foods helped reduce environmental impacts compared to high meat-consuming diets.
The study examined more than 55,000 individuals in the United Kingdom, and the research team linked this data with information from more than 38,000 farms and 119 different countries for their research study.
The study’s lead author, Professor Peter Scarborough, said: “Our dietary choices have a big impact on the planet.
Cherry-picking data on high impact plant-based food or low impact meat can obscure the clear relationship between animal-based foods and the environment.”
Another study by a team from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that not only did a plant-based diet help the benefit, but it also found evidence of plant-based diets impacting our health.
The research found that the individuals studied following an environmentally sustainable diet were eating foods that were rich for both health and the environment, such as whole grains, fruits, nuts, and non-starchy vegetables.
After uncovering this research, the team compiled their findings into a novel Planetary Health Diet Index that considers the environmental and health effects of various foods.
The lead author of this study and index said in an interview: “We proposed a new diet score that incorporates the best current scientific evidence of food effects on both health and the environment.”
Researchers also acknowledged that despite the promising results, the complexity of global dietary patterns and additional research is needed to explore the variations in various factors and barriers that might hinder the widespread adoption of a sustainable diet.
Bui said: “We hope that researchers can adapt this index to specific food cultures and validate how it is associated with chronic diseases and environmental impacts such as carbon footprint, water footprint, and land use in other populations.”
Both the Oxford and Harvard studies point to many of the same conclusions regarding the health and environmental impact of our dietary choices. More studies and research are still being done on this subject, but it’s sufficient to say that veganism can have many benefits beyond animal cruelty.
Another study about the climate crisis and factory farming found many cascading effects across both animal welfare and the nutrition and environmental impacts.
This study also warned about animals' vulnerability to climate change's impacts, such as heat stress, reduced food quality, and more.
While more research still needs to be done toward making plant-based options more widely available, it’s hard to ignore the many positive changes that switching to a plant-based diet could provide.
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