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Vegetarian Diets Are Good for Planet Health, Too

by Sandy Todd Webster on Sep 04, 2014


Data on more than 73,000 participants in the Adventist Health Study strongly suggests that consuming a plant-based diet results in a more sustainable environment and reduces greenhouse gas emissions while improving longevity.

The study and article, produced by researchers at Loma Linda University School of Public Health, in Loma Linda, California, and published in the July issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.071589), was based on findings that identified food systems as a significant contributor to global warming. Researchers focused on the dietary patterns of vegetarians, semivegetarians and nonvegetarians to quantify and compare greenhouse gas emissions, while also assessing total mortality.

The mortality rate for nonvegetarians was almost 20% higher than that for vegetarians and semivegetarians. On top of lowering mortality rates, switching from a nonvegetarian diet to a vegetarian or even semivegetarian diet helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions: The vegetarian diets reduced emissions by almost one-third compared with the nonvegetarian diets. Modifying the consumption of animal-based foods can therefore be a feasible and effective tool for mitigating climate change and improving public health, the study concluded.

"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, PhD, MPH, associate dean at Loma Linda University School of Public Health and coauthor of the studies.

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About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.