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The Great Longevity Debate: Vegetarianism vs. Meat Eating

The debate over whether a meat-based or plant-based diet is better for human health has been ongoing for decades. While many people believe that a vegetarian or vegan diet is the healthiest choice, others argue that humans need animal products in their diet to thrive.

Who lives longer: meat eaters or vegetarians?

This question has been the topic of many studies over the years, and the answer is not as straightforward as you might think.

One study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal in 2013 analyzed the diets of over 73,000 Seventh-day Adventists, a religious group that emphasizes a plant-based diet. The study found that vegetarians had a 12% lower risk of dying from any cause compared to meat eaters.

However, another study published in the same journal in 2019 found no significant difference in mortality rates between vegetarians and meat eaters. The study analyzed data from over 400,000 people in the UK and found that the risk of death was similar for both groups.

Why do these studies show different results?

One possible explanation is that it’s not just about whether you eat meat or not, but also the quality of the meat and the overall diet. For example, a person who eats a diet high in processed foods and low in fruits and vegetables, whether they are a meat eater or a vegetarian, may have a higher risk of mortality than someone who eats a balanced diet with minimal processed foods.

Another factor to consider is that there are different types of vegetarians. Some vegetarians may consume a diet high in processed foods and low in nutrients, while others may consume a balanced plant-based diet with a variety of:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • plant-based proteins

It’s also worth noting that correlation does not always equal causation. Just because vegetarians tend to have lower mortality rates than meat eaters do not necessarily mean that a vegetarian diet is the cause. There could be other factors, such as a higher level of physical activity or lower rates of smoking, that contribute to the difference in mortality rates.

What should you take away from all of this?

The bottom line is that a balanced diet with a variety of nutrient-rich foods is key to good health, whether you are a meat eater or a vegetarian. It’s important to focus on the quality of the food you are eating and make sure that you are getting all of the nutrients your body needs to thrive.

If you do choose to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, it’s important to make sure that you are getting enough:

  • protein
  • iron
  • calcium
  • vitamin B12

These nutrients can be more difficult to obtain from a plant-based diet, so it may be necessary to supplement or include certain fortified foods in your diet.

Learn more from a related article from The Conversation.

The key is to focus on eating a balanced diet with a variety of nutrient-rich foods and to listen to your body’s individual needs. Check out also some supplements from Asher Longevity Institute that can help you become healthy whether you are vegetarian or meat eater.

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All information and recommendations on this site are for information only and are not intended as formal medical advice from your physician or other health care professionals. This information is also not intended as a substitute for information contained on any product label or packaging. Diagnosis and treatment of any health issues, use of any prescription medications, and any forms of medical treatments should not be altered by any information on this site without confirmation by your medical team. Any diet, exercise, or supplement program could have dangerous side effects if you have certain medical conditions; consult with your healthcare providers before making any change to your longevity lifestyle if you suspect you have a health problem. Do not stop taking any medication without consulting with the prescribing doctor.