One of the 21st century’s greatest challenges is to develop diets that are both sustainable for the planet and good for our bodies. An IIASA-led study explored the major drivers of widespread shifts to sustainable diets using a newly developed computational model of population-wide behavioral dynamics.

High meat consumption — especially of red and processed meat — has been linked to poor health outcomes, including diabetes, heart disease, and various cancers. Livestock farming for meat production also has a massive environmental footprint. It contributes to deforestation to make room for livestock, leads to land and water degradation and biodiversity loss, and, considering the meat industry’s considerable methane emissions, creates as much greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as all the world’s cars, trucks, and airplanes combined. It therefore seems logical that several studies have demonstrated that diet change, especially lowering red meat consumption, can significantly contribute to the mitigation of climate change and environmental degradation, while also being conducive to better public health.

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