Encouraging people to eat healthier post-pandemic could prevent millions of deaths, according to new research.
A team – led by the University of Edinburgh – used a “leading-edge” computer model to assess the impacts that different Covid-19 recovery plans could have between 2019 and 2060.
They found that a diet shift toward less meat and more fruit and vegetables – could avert 26 million deaths by 2060.
Research also found that adopting a meat-free diet could make food more affordable in low-income countries and reduce agricultural land use – improving water quality.
The study was supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council, and the Scottish Government.
PhD student Aimen Sattar, of the University of Edinburgh’s Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems, who was involved in the research, said: “The COVID-19 recovery stimulus packages present an opportunity to reduce the impact of the food system on some of the most urgent global challenges.
This includes diet-related diseases, the impact of the food system on the environment, and the affordability of food, especially for those on the lowest income.
“This analysis shows the dramatic benefit of increasing global cooperation and improving diets.”