Vegetarian Diet Linked to Longer Life and Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions

First Posted: Jun 26, 2014 10:22 AM EDT

You can be healthier and save the environment all by changing your diet. Scientists have found that eating a plant-based diet is more sustainable and could improve longevity. That's quite the incentive to give up eating meat.

The researchers examined data from the Adventist Health Study. This large-scale study covers the nutritional habits and practices of more than 96,000 Seventh-day Adventists throughout the United States and Canada. In all, the scientists analyzed 73,000 participants and particularly looked at their food consumption and health outcomes.

Based on findings that identified food systems as a significant contributor to global warming, the study looked at the dietary patterns of vegetarians, semi-vegetarians and non-vegetarians. This allowed the researchers to quantify and compare greenhouse gas emissions, as well as assess total mortality.

In the end, the researchers found that the mortality rate for non-vegetarians was almost 20 percent higher than for vegetarians and semi-vegetarians. In addition, switching from non-vegetarian diets to vegetarian diets helped reduced greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, vegetarian diets resulted in almost a third less emissions compared to non-vegetarian diets.

"The takeaway message is that relatively small reductions in the consumption of animal products result in non-trivial environmental benefits and health benefits," said Sam Soret, one of the researchers, in a news release.

The findings reveal that switching to a plant-based diet might be a smart move in terms of curbing global emissions and also improving health. By reducing the amount of meat consumed, people can help the environment while also helping their own well-being.

The findings are published in two studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition here and here.

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