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Long-Term Health of Vegetarians & Vegans

Vegetarianism is a means of abstaining from the consumption of meat and refraining from using any merchandise resulting from animal slaughter. The various motivational aspects behind this philosophy are ethical, environmental, health-related, and personal predilection.

“It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence a lot of mankind.”

 ― Albert Einstein

Harris Interactive Service Bureau surveyed on behalf of Vegetarian Times which concluded that 3.2 percent of the adult U.S population are strictly vegetarian and more people are inclining towards this practice.

 A research firm in Colorado published a study indicating that 5.2 percent of non-vegetarians they questioned on their interest in a vegetarian lifestyle, are “definitely interested” in pursuing a vegetarian-based nutrition in the future.

Vegans: A Category of Vegetarians 

A vegetarian diet is a ‘plant-based’ diet but it has been further classified based on the inclusion or exclusion of certain animal by-products. Two of the most commonly found categories are lacto-ovo-vegetarians and vegans.

Lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets, as the name suggests, includes animal by-products such as milk, eggs, and honey. On the other hand, veganism is a diet category that excludes the consumption of all animal by-products as well as any items deriving from those products.


The American Dietetic Association appreciated the vegetarian lifestyle, they stated that an accurately planned vegetarian diet can be “healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

There is a rising number of people turning vegetarians, one of the most common motives here is health awareness and mindfulness. Studies suggest that health and weight management are the number one reason behind people adopting veganism.

Mortality Risk

Researchers at Loma Linda University have claimed that vegetarian men tend to live 10 years longer than non-vegetarian men. In general, the health review of vegetarian diets has given a mixed effect on the mortality rates.

In 2017, a review on a meta-analysis on the mortality ratios of vegetarians compared to non-vegetarians, including data from five western countries concluded: “vegetarians had a 24% lower mortality from ischemic heart disease than non-vegetarians”. On the contrary, a UK based analysis on the mortality rates found no difference in the mortality rates among vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

Cardiovascular and Cardio metabolic Health

The dietary pattern followed in vegetarianism has had profound effects on cardio metabolic and cardiovascular health by reducing the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in vegetarians.

A 2019 study on diabetic vegetarians conducted by the “European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD)” found evidence that a vegetarian diet helps achieve glycemic control.

Dental and Orthopedic Health 

Vegetarians are at a higher risk of developing dental erosion and caries because they tend to eat a higher quantity of fruits and vegetables, as a result the pH of the mouth drops exposing the teeth to cariogenic bacteria.

Vitamin B12 and calcium deficiency are also commonly detected in people following veganism. A 2020 meta-analysis established that a vegan diet contributes to bone loss and bone mineral density due to a diet that avoids all dairy products.

Cerebrovascular Health 

Research published in the British Medical Journal looked at 48,000 people from 18 years up and found a surprising result showing that vegans and vegetarians have a higher risk of stroke and a reduced risk of cardiovascular events. It was later clarified that this research was an observational study, not an association or a cause and effect.

In the long run, the key to living a healthy life while practicing vegetarianism is to follow a good and well balanced diet.

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