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A Vegetarian Diet can Increase Longevity, Help Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

A Vegetarian Diet can Increase Longevity, Help Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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First Posted: Jun 30, 2014 09:47 PM EDT
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A recent study conducted by researchers at Loma Linda Medical Center in California found that people with vegetarian diets are more likely to live longer and even reduce greenhouse emissions.

For the study, researchers compared dietary patterns of vegetarians to semi-vegetarians and non-vegetarians to find out which diet helped cut early death risk as well as greenhouse gas emissions. They examined data from 96,000 Seventh-day Adventists throughout the United States and Canada.

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"The study sample is heterogeneous and our data is rich. We analyzed more than 73,000 participants. The level of detail we have on food consumption and health outcomes at the individual level makes these findings unprecedented," said Sam Soret, Ph.D., MPH, associate dean at Loma Linda University School of Public Health and co-author of the study, in a news release.

Findings showed that the mortality rate for non-vegetarians was almost 20 percent higher than for vegetarians and semi-vegetarians. On top of that, switching to a vegetarian diet also helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions, resulting in about a third less emissions compared to those on the non-vegetarian diets.

The United Nations Environment Programme cautioned that meat production of any kind could release greenhouse gases.

"The takeaway message is that relatively small reductions in the consumption of animal products result in non-trivial environmental benefits and health benefits," added Sam Soret, Ph.D., MPH, associate dean at Loma Linda University School of Public Health and co-author of the studies.

An accompanying article invovling the study shows that the research provides evidence that humans can consider switching to large scale production of plant-based diets. Reducing meat in diets can also increase food security and sustainability. 

"Throughout history, forced either by necessity or choice, large segments of the world's population have thrived on plant-based diets," said Joan Sabate, M.D., DrPH, nutrition professor at the Loma Linda University School of Public Health and co-author of the study, according to a news release.

More information regarding the findings can be seen via the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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