Vegetarianism has gained a lot of notice lately due to a couple of studies that suggest people who follow a vegetarian lifestyle have greater longevity. Though neither study reached a definitive answer to the question, “Do vegetarians live longer?” they have definitely given us all something to chew on. The results of the two studies definitely show some sort of correlation between vegetarian or vegan lifestyles and length of life, but the groups studied were so specific, it’s hard to say anything conclusively.
The first study focused on a one-time survey of more than 70,000 Seventh-day Adventists. They were chosen as the focus of the study because their lifestyle encourages healthful diets, as well as abstention from alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. Not everyone studied was a vegetarian or vegan, but the Seventh-day Adventists are taught that a meatless diet is the ideal. Researchers found that men who ate vegetarian diets were less likely to die from heart disease or other heart-related conditions. However, there was not a similar result in women who followed a vegetarian lifestyle.
In the second study, the focus wasn’t primarily on vegetarians, but on overall fruit and vegetable consumption. More than 71,000 Swedes had their eating habits studied for 13 years. It was found that people who said they never ate fruits and vegetables died, on average, three years sooner than those who frequently ate foods like apples, carrots and tomatoes. While this study was not perfect, it did seem to indicate that consuming more fruits and vegetables, and more vegetables than fruits, may help people live a longer life.
So what does that mean for you? It can’t be said with all certainty that eating more vegetables, or even becoming a vegetarian or vegan, will help you live longer. However, studies are showing that such lifestyles may help you live a healthier life. For most participants in both studies, the higher the fruit and vegetable consumption, the healthier habits that person had. Maybe those who choose a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle are simply more health conscious. Only further study will tell.