June 27, 2014

Vegetarian Diet Is Effective Tool Against Climate Change, Study Finds

A plant-based diet is not
only good for you but also an effective way to combat climate change, according
to a new study by Loma
Linda University Health.

The research, published in
the upcoming July issue of the American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition
, found that a vegetarian diet results in
nearly a third less greenhouse gas emissions than a diet with animal products.

Therefore, a vegetarian or
even semi-vegetarian diet is a feasible and effective tool against the climate
change that has been caused by emissions, the study said.

"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, a co-author of the study and an associate dean at Loma Linda University
School of Public Health.

The study also found that the
mortality rate for non-vegetarians is about 20 percent higher than that for
vegetarians and semi-vegetarians.

For the study, Loma Linda
researchers used findings that that have identified food systems as a significant contributor to global
warming as well as data from the university’s Adventist Health Study, a
ground-breaking work that explores the nutritional practices of more than
96,000 Seventh-day Adventists in North America.

The result is the first
analysis that uses a large, living population, Loma Linda University Health
said Wednesday. Previous studies relating diet to greenhouse gas emissions and
health effects relied on simulated data or relatively small populations to find
similar conclusions, it said.

"To our knowledge, no
studies have yet used a single non-simulated data set to independently assess
the climate change mitigation potential and actual health outcomes for the same
dietary patterns," said Joan Sabaté, a study co-author and a nutrition
professor at Loma Linda University School of Public Health.

The study argues that a
global shift toward plant-based diets would help protect people against food
shortages by increasing 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,” Sabaté said in a statement.

California-based and
Adventist-operated Loma Linda University Health is an internationally recognized
leader in producing scientific research recognizing the benefits of plant-based
diets. Its School
of Public Health places an emphasis on environmental nutrition through a
six-year-old postdoctoral program as well as a research program funded by the
McLean Endowment.

Related links

Loma Linda University Health statement

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition abstract