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Harvard Study Links Plant-based Diets to Lower Diabetes Risk

A new study by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has found that replacing meat, dairy and eggs with healthy plant-based foods could significantly reduce our chances of developing type-2 diabetes.

The meta-study reviewed evidence from nine published studies involving over 300,000 participants, and found that, in addition to reducing risk of heart disease and certain cancers, healthy plant-based diets were associated with a whopping 23 percent reduction in type-2 diabetes risk.

More than 3 million Canadians—8 percent of us—are already living with diabetes. The Public Health Agency of Canada predicts that between the years 2012 and 2022, over 2 million more Canadians will suffer from diabetes. Diabetes impacts the quality of life for those living with the disease, and costs us $8 billion in direct health care costs annually.

A healthy future for our children not only means reduced disease risk but also a healthier planet.

Plant-based eating is not only good for us—it’s good for our planet, too. Growing our calories in the form of plants means far less water and air pollution, and a massive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

And without factory farmers using antibiotics on billions of animals to keep them from getting sick while living in their own waste, the risk of untreatable “superbug” epidemics would go down exponentially.

We can do this, but we need our governments’ help.

The federal government has taken encouraging and meaningful steps by launching new investment in plant-based protein innovation, and recommending plant-forward diets in the new Canada Food Guide.

But school boards and provinces should be banning meat, dairy and egg companies from advertising in schools, and instead encourage our kids to eat more whole plant-based foods.

And Environment and Climate Change Canada should also incorporate plant-based food promotion into its Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

These policies would save lives and tax dollars while generating new revenue for Canada’s growing plant-based protein sector. Let’s start asking for them.

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