Plant-based diet could save $500 a year? New research reveals surprising cost-effectiveness

Many people believe that switching to a plant-based diet to manage weight may be more expensive, but new research finds the opposite is true.

A new clinical trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that a plant-based diet may actually lower food bills for overweight adults. In this study, researchers aimed to understand the economic impact of dietary choices, particularly for overweight individuals.

The trial included 200 overweight adults aged between 30 and 55, who were divided into two groups. One group was guided to follow a plant-based diet, while the second group was allowed to maintain their normal eating habits.

Through self-reports, the researchers tracked each participant’s weekly food expenditures over a six-month period. Additionally, both groups had access to food discounts and promotions to ensure that the data collected was not influenced by any external economic factors.

Plant-based diet reduces food costs.

After six months, the data showed that participants who followed the plant-based diet spent less on average per week, about 16% less, which equates to savings of about $1.51 per day, compared to the control group. This could potentially save about $500 a year in food expenses.

“We know that a plant-based diet significantly reduces your risk of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, and now We have evidence that choosing beans instead of beef will also save you significant money on your food bill.”

The decrease in daily expenses was primarily due to daily savings of $1.77 on meat and $0.74 on dairy. These decreases were driven in part by increases in spending on vegetables of $1.03, fruits by $0.40, legumes and whole grains by $0.30 a day each, and meat and dairy alternatives.

Overall, the study supports previous research showing that plant-based diets are more cost-effective than diets containing animal products.

The study is part of a growing body of evidence highlighting the economic benefits of a plant-based diet. However, the researchers note that their findings are not conclusive and further research is needed to confirm these claims. Further research is needed to explore how these cost reductions affect broader economic indicators such as health care costs associated with obesity and lifestyle-related diseases.

These new data provide valuable insights for consumers, healthcare providers, and policymakers, opening new avenues for promoting dietary choices that have both economic and health benefits.

Is a plant-based diet cost-effective?

These new findings are consistent with previous research, highlighting the economic viability and benefits of plant-based diets in combating obesity.

For example, a new study led by researchers at Mass General Brigham Health System finds that offering plant-based foods may be a useful strategy for preventing obesity in children from food-insecure families, setting them up for healthy adulthood.

Reduce medical costs by choosing a plant-based diet.

According to the 2021 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, obesity rates in the United States are on an alarming upward trend, rising from 30.5% in 1999 to 2000 to 41.9% from 2017 to March 2020. The increase also includes a nearly doubling of severe obesity rates, from 4.7% to 9.2%.

These alarming numbers have major health implications, as obesity-related diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, are among the leading causes of preventable, premature death. one.

From a financial perspective, the estimated annual medical costs of obesity in the United States were nearly $173 billion in 2019, with obese adults having medical costs $1,861 higher than those of a healthy weight.

Not only does research show that switching to a plant-based diet can aid weight loss, it also shows that such a diet can reduce the risk of all of these obesity-related diseases. Therefore, switching to a plant-based diet could reduce the burden of medical costs on individuals and public health authorities.

It’s this that inspired change in New York City Mayor Eric L. Adams, who himself recovered his health after switching to a plant-based diet, including the city’s major program, the New York Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Initiative.

Over the past year, the city has expanded its lifestyle medicine program, trained nutrition doctors and introduced plant-based options in public institutions. These actions resulted in significant health benefits, including improvements in patients’ cardiometabolic health.

The program also inspired 1,400 mayors in the United States to sign a plant-based resolution to bring similar initiatives to their own cities.

Adams has stated: “New York City is leading the way in promoting plant-based diets in our schools, hospitals and institutions, and our goal is to lead by example and create dialogue that will prompt other mayors and cities to adopt our best practices and lessons learned and apply them. to their communities.”

In addition, the City is expected to save approximately $500,000 annually and reduce food carbon emissions by 36%.