The global drive toward more meat and dairy consumption could increase diet-related disease and boost greenhouse gas emissions by 80%, but other dietary patterns could provide answers, claims a study published in Nature.
Mediterranean diet has ‘lasting’ health benefits, say researchers
Veggie NPD isn’t about recreating meat but demonstrating an alternative, says Italian firm
The study, led by David Tilman of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Ecology, said the current trajectory of dietary patterns was leading to higher incidence of type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease, while also increasing land clearing and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
“Although this pattern does not mean that healthier diets are necessarily more environmentally beneficial, nor that more environmentally beneficial diets are necessarily healthier, there are many alternative dietary options that should substantially improve both human and environmental health,” the researchers wrote.
They compared different dietary patterns for their health and environmental impacts, including Mediterranean, vegetarian, pescetarian (including fish and seafood, but not meat), and a projected income-dependent diet for 2050.
The income-dependent diet, when compared to the average global diet of 2009, was estimated to have 15% more calories and 11% more total protein. Based on projected incomes and current trajectories, the global diet in 2050 would have 61% more empty calories, 18% fewer servings of fruit and vegetables, 2.7% less plant protein, 23% more pork and poultry, 31% more ruminant meat, 58% more dairy and egg and 82% more fish and seafood, the researchers forecast.