I’m going to alienate some friends here, but science is science: A massive study earlier this year found that being vegan or vegetarian could benefit you in a lot of different ways, but it won’t help you live longer.
Researchers tracked 243,096 men and women with an average age of 62. A six-year follow-up found that meat eaters and folks who followed a vegetarian diet or some version thereof (including vegetarianism “flirters”) lived the same amount of time. Even after researchers adjusted for other factors like age, smoking, and diseases like type 2 diabetes, they found no evidence that forgoing meat could help you live longer.
What diet will help extend your life span?
Other studies came to the same conclusion. In fact, data from three cohort studies published earlier this year—with around 200,000 American health workers—found a vegetarian diet based on refined grains and other unhealthy foods could actually increase your risk for heart disease. Upon closer inspection, researchers found those eating a plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats were less likely to get heart disease than people eating stuff like potatoes, refined grains, and sugar-loaded foods.
In other words, eating meat doesn’t matter as much as eating quality food. Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of confusion and contention about this: “It’s not easy to know for sure what is the ‘truth.’ Vegan diet studies show they help with weight loss, reverse diabetes, and lower cholesterol. Diets high in fat and animal protein seem to do the same thing,” writes Dr. Mark Hyman in Eat Fat, Get Thin. “Essentially, each scientist (or even each person reading the research) with a point of view adheres to his or her position with near religious fervor. And each can point to studies validating his or her perspective.”