New Study Says Vegetarians Live Longer, But at What Cost?

Categories: Veg

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We thought we'd take a break from writing about fried meats to mention that a new study just came out about the health benefits of a vegetarian diet. Spoiler: Vegetarian diets are good for you, which is probably not a surprise. What is surprising is that there are numbers to back it up now: over a six-year period with more than 73,000 participants, researchers found that vegetarians were 19 percent less likely to develop heart disease and 12 percent less likely to die, which may also mean that vegetarians are just luckier.

As fans of How to Lie with Statistics, we're usually a little skeptical about studies. This one comes from a Lomo Linda University, a Seventh-day Adventist school. Seventh-day Adventists promote a lacto-ovo vegetarian lifestyle, meaning a totally fleshless diet. But it's also funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the American Medical Association's internal medicine journal. So we'll give it some consideration.

The church promotes a diet that's heavy on whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and moderate use of seeds, nuts, legumes, etc. Which sounds a lot like the Mediterranean diet, which has been so popular nutritionists are trying to find variations of it to use in olive oil-deprived regions (the Nordic diet, for example).

But there are a few things to consider here. The researchers lumped together people who rarely ate meat, people who ate fish and vegans. All of these people count as "vegetarian" in the study. Secondly, they found that the diets make almost no difference for women, and the vegetarian eaters didn't show any difference in cancer rates.

And most important, Seventh-day Adventists disapprove of booze and caffeine, claiming "[coffee], tea and alcoholic beverages provide few nutrients and may interfere with the absorption of essential nutrients." While members aren't required to follow all the eating and drinking restrictions, it's reasonable to say that the study participants were already a lot healthier than the average American, and probably live longer lives. But a longer life with no alcohol or coffee. And that's a big distinction.

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20 comments
Warren Paul Harris
Warren Paul Harris

I've been a vegetarian for over 40 years. A TRUE vegetarian - not the kind who "occasionally" eats chicken - or fish. I'm generally healthier than other people I know, have lots of energy and a very decent body fat index. I weigh 5 lbs more than I did at age 18. I taught martial arts for 10 years, ran 5 miles before dawn most of my adult life until arthritis took that option away, was a black diamond skier, SCUBA diver and cannot imagine my life any other way. Regular blood tests come back with the results "of a 20-year-old" I'm told.

Brian Luznak
Brian Luznak

I'm a vegan (been one for around 10 years and a vegetarian for over 11. It not only adds years to your life but adds quality to those years. Eating healthy means a better living. And if you don't believe me (why would you?), then read some of John Robbins works on the subject. I'd start with his book titled "Diet for a New America." Changed my perception on the subject completely! And visit the Spiral Diner for a real taste of veganism!

RoBerts ErIc
RoBerts ErIc

the word diet is also not a word most vegans or vegetarians would refer to the word to use is lifestyle as it is a lifestyle that you live which concentrates on all aspects of living just not eating habits

RoBerts ErIc
RoBerts ErIc

i need to know what the source are for the cancer study

RoBerts ErIc
RoBerts ErIc

But there are a few things to consider here. The researchers lumped together people who rarely ate meat, people who ate fish and vegans. All of these people count as "vegetarian" in the study. Secondly, they found that the diets make almost no difference for women, and the vegetarian eaters didn't show any difference in cancer rates.

RoBerts ErIc
RoBerts ErIc

i need to know the source as far as the studies go i have to say this is a shameful read

RoBerts ErIc
RoBerts ErIc

just avoid the gmo veggies buy organic foods

Marvin Remmers
Marvin Remmers

But it adds years at the end of your life, when you're old.

Luis Cruz
Luis Cruz

but pepperoni pizza is worth the years taken off

Threeboys
Threeboys

I like tasty animals too much to read any study into a vegetarian diet, but I can find one stat in the above story that is entirely false.

Reality is that 100% of vegetarians will die.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu topcommenter

hope I live long enough to see Snuffer's rebuilt.

CitizenKane
CitizenKane

the longer one lives; the more expensive it is for taxpayers to foot the bill for end of life care...............so vegetarians are actually a greater cost to society than others ?

BrentD
BrentD

@CitizenKane care to estimate an age when citizens' cost to society outweighs their benefit to society? Perhaps there should be a mandatory death sentence.

CitizenKane
CitizenKane

@BrentD @CitizenKane Don't mix apples and oranges;  but if you want an answer to your question ask the head of Obama's death panels.  They are contemplating that very question.

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