New research: Partially replacing red or processed meat with plant-based protein could extend life and mitigate climate change

Recently, researchers from McGill University in Canada published a research paper titled: Partial substitutions of animal with plant protein foods in Canadian diets have synergies and trade-offs among nutrition, health and climate outcomes in the Nature sub-journal Nature Food.

The new study provides compelling evidence that partially replacing animal protein foods with plant proteins can extend lifespan and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the study showed that these benefits depended on the type of animal protein being replaced (red and processed meats, but not dairy, should be replaced).

For the study, the team extracted data from a national nutrition survey and analyzed Canadians’ dietary records. The study simulated partial replacement of red and processed meat or dairy products with plant-based protein foods (such as nuts, seeds, legumes, tofu and fortified soy drinks) and combined nutritional, health and climate outcomes.

Red and processed meats and dairy products are major sources of diet-related greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, which has been confirmed in previous studies. Notably, the study found that when people replaced half of their red and processed meat intake with plant-based protein foods, their diet-related Carbon Footprint, a measure of an individual, organization, product or country’s The indicator of carbon dioxide emissions directly or indirectly caused within a certain period of time) will plummet by 25%. Alternative dairy products, on the other hand, show smaller carbon footprint reductions, up to 5%.

The research team says this study shows that the mutual benefits of human and planetary health do not require large-scale changes in diet (such as adopting restrictive eating patterns or completely excluding certain food combinations), but can be achieved by simply partially replacing This can be achieved with red and processed meats, especially by replacing them with plant-based protein options.

Diets high in animal protein are thought to increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. In the study, the research team estimated that if a person replaced half of the red and processed meat in their diet with plant-based protein foods, their life expectancy could be extended by nearly nine months due to a reduced risk of chronic disease. . When analyzed separately by gender, men would benefit more from making this dietary switch, with twice as much increased life expectancy as women. In contrast, replacing dairy products with plant-based protein foods brings a smaller increase in life expectancy and creates another problem – an increase in calcium deficiency of up to 14%.

The team hopes the findings will help consumers make healthier and more sustainable food choices and inform future food policy. Increasing your intake of plant-based foods while reducing your intake of red and processed meats would have considerable health and environmental benefits, and would, for most people, involve relatively small dietary changes.

As more people seek sustainable and health-conscious diets, the results of this study can serve as a guide to empower individuals to make informed choices that benefit their personal health and the planet.