Switching from beef to alternative proteins could save millions of lives and dramatically cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.
This is according the World Economic Forum New research conducted by the Oxford Martin School for WEF.
It showed that efforts to replace meat and especially beef could provide great benefits for human health and the environment.
The organisation, famous for the plush gathering of the world’s rich, famous and influential at the luxury Swiss ski resort of Davos each January, said 2.4 percent of global diet-related deaths could be avoided by moving away from beef.
And for wealthier countries, a full five percent of such deaths could be avoided, according to the shool’s white paper “Alternative proteins”.
The finding noted that “The most positive effects are found in wealthier countries, where beef consumption is high and where there is a particular benefit of consuming more fibre,”.
The paper did not however provide figures on how many people are estimated to die annually from diet-related causes, nor what diseases or conditions were included in that category.
But the forum maintained that switching from meat “could prevent millions of unnecessary deaths per year.”
It also pointed out that demand for meat is projected to keep growing even as the global population is predicted to swell to 10 billion around the middle of this century.
WEF managing director Dominic Waughray said in the statement that “innovation in products, improvements in how we produce beef, pork and chicken, and an effort on the part of the consumer to embrace a more diverse diet,” could make it possible to improve global health, even without giving up meat altogether.
The report analysed 13 sources of protein, including beef, pork and chicken, along with fruits and vegetables such as beans, processed non-animal substitutes like tofu, and novel products including insects.
It found that switching from meat to alternative proteins could have both a negative and a positive effect on nutrient intake, but that overall, increasing consumption of alternatives offered health improvements.
Beans, mycoprotein and peas offered the biggest health boost, with the possibility to reduce mortality rates by up to seven percent, it found.
The white paper also highlighted 2010 data showing that beef production alone accounts for a quarter of all food-related greenhouse gas emissions,.