PhD Studentship

Assessing the cardio-metabolic health effects and environmental sustainability impact of plant-based diets

As plant-based diets become more socially accepted and its incorporation into lifestyle more popular, future-proofing food and health security by understanding the environmental sustainability and clinical impact of such a radical global lifestyle change is important. Cardio-metabolic diseases are the leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide and the single largest contributor to health care expenditure. Literature indicates an inverse association between plant-based diets and all-cause mortality and, risk of cardio-metabolic diseases. However, randomised control trials (RCT) with hard clinical endpoints are required to strengthen the evidence-base. Global food systems impact our environment due to factors associated with greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe), land-use change, agricultural waste, fertiliser usage, and water consumption. In the UK, dairy and meat production has been identified as a significant GHGe contributor. Research has identified fewer GHGe, water and land-use associated with plant-based foods than animal-based. To our knowledge, RCTs have not previously examined the cardio-metabolic and environmental impact of incorporating plant-based dairy and meat alternatives (PBDMA) within a broader whole diet context in omnivorous adults.

This PhD aims to:

  • Examine the effect of incorporating PBDMAs as a whole diet change on cardio-metabolic health, in humans as part of RCTs.
  • Examine the environmental impact, using a specialist software package (Eaternity), of incorporating PBDMAs as a whole diet change.
  • Examine the clinical and environmental differences between plant-based dairy and plant-based meat alternative diets.
  • Establish barriers and facilitators to adopting plant-based diets in populations with cardio-metabolic diseases.

This research will increase our understanding of clinical, nutrient and environmental consequences of adopting plant-based diets, and the cardio-metabolic impacts of replacing animal-based products with PBDMA in healthy free-living omnivorous adults and those with cardio-metabolic disease. The data will enable provision of practical recommendations about the facilitators and barriers to PBDMA adoption and its effectiveness to prevent and manage cardio-metabolic disease.

Applicant requirements

Applicants must have a UK good honours degree (First-Class Honours or Upper Second-Class Honours) in a relevant field or equivalent and additionally an appropriate Masters qualification would be beneficial.

Interviews will start soon after the closing date.

Studentship start date: September 2023.


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