Several commentaries have suggested that the overconsumption of animal foods exerts several detrimental effects on human and environmental health. However, no studies have accurately estimated the impact of a reduction in animal food consumption on mortality due to the direct effects on metabolic health (i.e. animal protein and saturated fat intake as modulators of pathways leading to cardiovascular disease, cancer and accelerated ageing), and indirect effects on health due to excessive exposure to pollutants (i.e. PM10 concentrations originated by livestock ammonia emissions). The proposed modelling approach is innovative since it integrates social acceptability, environmental and health impacts. It is adopted to investigate different scenarios at a regional scale presenting the Lombardy region case study. The work focuses on the impact on the human and environmental health of diets characterized by three different animal protein intake levels. Our integrated assessment modelling approach faces the issue from two points of view. On one side, it estimates the mortality due to the population exposure to PM10 concentrations including the inorganic fraction originated by livestock ammonia emissions, on the other, it evaluates the mortality (i.e. total, cardiovascular and cancer) due to high dietary animal protein and/or saturated fat intake. The impacts of the mentioned animal protein intake levels of diets are also estimated through the people willingness to change their eating behaviour. The importance of putting in place end-of-pipe and energy measures in order to reduce ammonia and methane emissions from the breeding activities, going further the current EU legislation on air quality and climate, is emphasized.
Volta, M., Turrini, E., Carnevale, C., Valeri, E., Gatta, V., Polidori, P., et al. (2021). Co-benefits of changing diet. A modelling assessment at the regional scale integrating social acceptability, environmental and health impacts. SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT, 756, 143708 [10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.143708].