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Jun 25, 2014 06:02 PM EDT

Plant-Based Diets Produce Fewer Greenhouse Gases, Increase Longevity

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Vegetarian diets results in a more sustainable environment, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and increases longevity, according to new research from Loma Linda University Health.

The mortality rate for non-vegetarians was almost 20 percent higher than that for vegetarians and semi-vegetarians. On top of lower mortality rates, switching from non-vegetarian diets to vegetarian diets or even semi-vegetarian diets also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The vegetarian diets resulted in almost a third less emissions compared to the non-vegetarian diets.

Researchers concluded that modifying the consumption of animal-based foods can therefore be a feasible and effective tool for climate change mitigation and public health improvements,

"The takeaway message is that relatively small reductions in the consumption of animal products result in non-trivial environmental benefits and health benefits," Sam Soret, co-author of the study and an associate dean at Loma Linda University School of Public Health, said in a statement.

For the study, researchers collected data from the Adventist Health Study, which is a large-scale study of the nutritional habits and practices of more than 96,000 Seventh-day Adventists throughout the United States and Canada.

"The study sample is heterogeneous and our data is rich. We analyzed more than 73,000 participants. The level of detail we have on food consumption and health outcomes at the individual level makes these findings unprecedented," Soret said.

Researchers also found that modifying the consumption of animal-based foods can be a feasible and effective tool for climate change mitigation and public health improvements.

The analysis is the first of its kind to use a large, living population, since previous studies relating dietary patterns to greenhouse gas emissions and health effects relied on simulated data or relatively small populations to find similar conclusions.

The findings will be published in the July issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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