Eating healthy isn’t just about bettering yourself; scientists now say you can help the environment by maintaining a healthy diet.
The agriculture industry is responsible for up to a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. A new study is looking at how changing out eating habits could help decrease the environmental impact of these emissions. The study includes data from 37 countries, accounting for almost two thirds of the global population.
The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that for higher income nations, following a nationally recommended diet could decrease their greenhouse gas emissions by up to a quarter compared to their current diets. Added reductions were seen in land use and water pollution as well. On the other hand, countries with lower incomes could see an increase in environmental impacts caused by an increase in consumption of animal products as suggested in the dietary guidelines. However, the study shows that if there were a uniformly recommended diet across every country, global emissions would still go down.
The study indicates that the reduction in animal product consumption demonstrates the most benefits when it comes to emission reduction, as well as consuming fewer calories. It’s suggested wealthier countries focus on reducing sugars, oils, meat and dairy. Officials with The World Health Organization state that we should only consume the calories we intend to use for energy. They suggest that fats are an important part of a healthy diet but don’t have to come from animals.