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Personal and Planetary Health: Connection with Dietary Choices -- May 16, 2023

Two authors have raised their voices on the enormously visible platform of the Journal of the American Medical Association, compactly summarizing widespread evidence that societal and worldwide shifts toward more plant-based diets would extend human lifespan and reduce chronic disease while decreasing environmental degradation and global warming.

The authors, Urvi A. Shah, MD, cancer researcher at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Gia Merlo, MD MBA DipABLM FACLM, Professor at New York University Grossman School of Medicine and Rory Meyers College of Nursing, are both involved with the Lifestyle Medicine Action Group of the nonprofit Plant Powered Metro NY that is supporting our Sept. 30 - Oct. 2 Newark conference, where Dr. Merlo will speak.

Some of the data cited in this article:

  • Transitioning to more plant-based diets that align with standard dietary guidelines could reduce global mortality by 6% to 10% and food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 29% to 70% in 2050.

  • The economic benefits of improving diets in this way are estimated to be up to 13% of global gross domestic product in 2050.

  • Even if fossil fuel emissions were eliminated, emissions from the global food system alone would make it impossible to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement.

  • According to the EAT-Lancet Commission, transformation to healthful sustainable diets by 2050 will require a greater than 50% reduction in global consumption of red meat and greater than 100% increase in consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

  • National surveys indicate less than 5% of the US population meets dietary fiber recommendations due to inadequate plant-based food intake.

  • Adopting evidence-based energy-balanced vegan dietary patterns may lead to reductions in premature mortality of 22%; 95% CI, 18%-24%.

The authors mentioned six examples of current New York City initiatives, that will be discussed by speakers at our Newark conference, as models for local institutional support of increasing plant-based food consumption for sustainability and health promotion purposes.


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