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Environmental and human health trade-offs in potential Chinese dietary shifts

Guo, Yixin, He, Pan ORCID:, Searchinger, Tim D., Chen, Youfen, Springman, Marco, Zhou, Mi, Zhang, Xin and Mauzeral, Denise L. 2022. Environmental and human health trade-offs in potential Chinese dietary shifts. One Earth 5 (3) , pp. 268-282. 10.1016/j.oneear.2022.02.002

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Dietary shifts from staples toward meats, fruits, and vegetables increase environmental impacts. Excessive red meat intake and micro-nutrient deficiencies also raise health concerns. Previous research examined environmental and health consequences of alternative diets but overlooked impacts on air pollution and land use change. Here we examine implications of four potential Chinese dietary shifts on ammonia and particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, carbon storage loss associated with land-use change, water use, and human health. We show that a diet that replaces red meat with soy benefits the environment and avoids 57,000 PM2.5-related premature deaths annually. Dietary health benefits, however, appear larger with adoption of the Chinese Dietary Guideline (CDG) and EAT-Lancet diets, which prevent over one million premature deaths annually. However, both diets increase water use and GHGs. CDG also increases land use change, but EAT-Lancet reduces it by cutting dairy and red meat. Complex benefits and trade-offs of dietary shifts emphasize the need for further improvements in agricultural management to enable larger health-environment co-benefits.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Cell Press
ISSN: 2590-3322
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 20 April 2022
Date of Acceptance: 18 February 2022
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 22:14

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