A new modelling study recently published in the British Medical Journal says that cutting red and processed meat consumption not only lessens chronic diseases and other health problems, but is also a great way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from livestock farming.
The study, made by University of Cambridge researchers based on the 2000-2001 British National Diet and Nutrition Survey, estimated the meat and processed meat consumption of 1,724 participants aged 19-64 years old. The researchers categorized the subjects into six groups: one group for vegetarians and five other groups for meat consumers depending on meat intake, from the lowest to highest meat consumption. They believed that the consumption estimates they made reflect the general intake of meat and processed products in UK and is useful in estimating the impact dietary changes would have on health and the environment.
After factoring in the risk factors associated with red meat intake, the researchers assessed the effects of reducing meat intake would have on one’s health. In addition, they also looked into the possible benefits to the environment of red meat reduction in the subjects’ diet.
It was noted that reducing meat intake by 38 grams for men and 24 grams for women would lessen the likelihood of coronary artery disease, diabetes, colon cancer and other chronic diseases anywhere from 3-12 percent. They also estimated that around 0.45 tons of meat annually will be saved by each participant in the study, which translates into 28 million tons of greenhouse gases not released to the environment each year.
This new work validates another study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that showed food for meat eaters need more water, energy, fertilizers and pesticides than food consumed by vegetarians. Both studies stressed the need for the reduction of red meat consumption, not only for healthier bodies but for a more sustainable environment.