The result of the research was published in the scientific journal PNAS. According to the authors, this is the first time that analyzes of the influence on health and greenhouse gas emissions have been linked.
Ruminant animal husbandry affects the environment in different ways and is directly linked to global emissions. Livestock, for example, emit large amounts of methane gas into the atmosphere, a pollutant 21 times worse than carbon dioxide. In addition, deforestation to maintain large-scale agriculture and livestock contributes to the loss of forests as carbon storage points. Not to mention the impact on local biodiversity.
With this information, the scientists concluded that it was necessary to cross information and the different scenarios to understand how the consumption of meat can affect the planet.
The researchers designed four hypotheses in a computer model to analyze how each would present itself in 2050. They are:
1. Maintenance of current production patterns: In this case, data and estimates from food and the United Nations organization for agriculture have been used.
2. With global healthy eating: in this situation, the entire world population eats healthily, consuming only the calories necessary to maintain a healthy weight. The diets that were considered are: five servings of fruits and vegetables, less than 50 g of sugar and no more than 1.20 kg of meat daily.
3. Vegetarian diets that include dairy: would be six servings of fruits and vegetables and one serving of grains like beans and lentils.
4. Totally vegan diets: with seven servings of fruits and vegetables and one serving of grains.
To explain the experiences, the researchers explain that the scenarios were designed to explore the range of possible outcomes provided by a progressive exclusion of foods made of animal origin from the human diet.
The first discovery is related to health. Just going from the 1st to the 2nd scenario, it would be possible to save the lives of 5.1 million people a year. When you look at the scenario with vegetarian diets, the number rises to 7.3 million and vegan diets, the incredible 8.1 million. The explanation would be that eating less meat reduces the incidence of chronic noncommunicable diseases, associated with unhealthy and overweight diets.
The second point refers to pollutants. "With the healthy diet containing meat, global greenhouse gas emissions would increase only 7% in 2050. With the current standard scenario, this increase would be 51%."
The economic benefits come third. According to scientists, the change in habits that is reflected in fewer diseases also means less spending on health. The economy, with just the costs to fight disease and the lost workdays as a result of disease, would be $ 700 billion to $ 1 trillion a year.