Those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet have a decreased risk of dying from causes such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and kidney failure, according to a large analysis published by the U.S. National Institute of Health and funded by the National Cancer Institute.
For the analysis, a research team at Loma Linda University explored the connections between dietary patterns and death rates in men and women following the Seventh-day Adventist religion, studying over 73,000 people ages 25 and older.
Participants were categorized into dietary groups based on their reported food intake during the previous year. 29% reported being lacto-ovo vegetarians (eating eggs and/or dairy, but red meat, fish or poultry less than once per month), 10% were pesco-vegetarians (eating fish, milk and eggs), 8% were entirely vegan, and 5% were “semi-vegetarians” (eating fish, red meat or poultry less than once per week, but more than once per month).
Over a 6 year period, there was 2,570 deaths among the 73,000 participants.
Researchers found that of those following a vegetarian diet, they were 12% less likely to die from all causes combined compared to those who regularly ate meat, fish and/or poultry.
Those on a vegetarian diet tended to have a lower rate of death due to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and renal disorders such as kidney failure.
“This research gives more support to the idea that certain vegetarian dietary patterns may be associated with reduced mortality and increased longevity”, says Dr. Michael Orlich, one of the study’s lead researchers. “This is something that may be taken into account by those making dietary choices and by those offering dietary guidance”.