I just heard a PSA on a Seattle radio station touting vegetarianism. The speaker said “I’ll live ten years longer than my meat eating friends”. My initial reaction is “Really?”. I have vaguely heard vegetarians live longer, but ten years? Anybody know any studies that back or refute this claim?
Since vegetarianism en masse is a relatively new (last 40 years? too young to remember the 60s) trend, I would be extremely suspect of any studies that made any firm conclusions one way or the other. There are so many factors that play into average lifespan, that I would think the first full long term studies that even have the potential to prove anything either way are still probably a good 30 to 50 years off.
If you give up meat in order to live longer, you may not live ten years longer than your meat-eating friends, but the boredom will make it seem much longer.
Even if it’s true, bacon alone is worth losing 10 years, not to mention steak, hamburgers, pork chops…
I saw a t-shirt recently which said, “Bacon: the gateway meat.”
Anyway, I imagine the correspondence between vegetarianism and healthy living is higher than meat eating and healthy living. Correlation not equaling causation and all that.
I would think this too, with no actual data to back it up of course. But my gut feeling (ha) is that there is a difference between the “vegetarian” who eats a lot of steamed, lightly sauteed vegetables in whole wheat pasta and light tomato sauce and drinks mineral water, versus the one (such as I have known) who drinks beer and seems to subsist largely on ice cream, cheese, pizza and tortilla chips (including Cheetos).
Do you really want 10 years of increasing senility? Give me my three-score and ten to eat, drink, and be merry - and chase women - and I’ll be happy.
I’m a vegetarian and I find that ten year claim to be suspect if it’s based on diet alone. If you look at a bigger picture and take related factors into consideration (like one study also found that vegetarians are not as likely to be smokers) then maybe.
But there have been a few studies that did take lifestyle into effect as well like Thorogood, (1994), Burr & Butland (1988) and Key (1999-ish) and generally vegetarians are healthier in some key areas. Thorogood’s study did take lifestyle into account more so tha a lot of other studies, to level the playing field (so to speak).
A properly combined vegetarian diet can help cut cholesterol significantly for some people. There have been studies that indicate that vegetarians have quite a noticeably lower mortality rate from coronary disease. The aforementioned Burr and Butland study had ischaemic heart disease being 57% lower in vegetarians (I think most studies have it around 30%-50% though). And some study in the early 90s had veggie-heads pegged with an overall better cardio fitness.
A study has shown it has a beneficial effect on obesity rates and lower rates of diabetes too. And there have been studies suggesting that incidences in colon cancer may be significantly lower too, but I don’t have a cite for that. IIRC, it had something to do with the very high-fibre veggie diet being helpful in prevention.
Vegetarianism has been linked to lower rates of other assorted cancers too, but I’m not familiar with the studies and I don’t know how valid they may be (but there was one in the late 80s by someone name Mills that goes on about verious cancers and the benefits of a veggie-only diet.
But 10 years? Meh, maybe yes, maybe no. A vegetarian diet certainly eliminates some risks though.
I absolutely can believe that vegetarians live substantially longer, at least in the United States, and I say that as a man who thinks prime rib is the food of the Gods.
But as has been pointed out, vegetarians are a self-selecting group. They are disproportionately likely to be health-conscious in a wide variety of ways, and if you have a lot more people in that demographic watching what they eat, then you’ll have fewer with heart disease, diabetes, and other obesity-related ailments; they’re probably also less likely to smoke and engage in other risky behaviours.
In order to purely isolate the effects of vegetarianism you’d have to have a pretty wide-ranging study that controls for a lot of factors.
Yeah, the risk of deliciousness.
You have to sample some really good recipes cooking.
Maybe they’re just planning on killing off their friends.
Meat is high in glutamic acid, which registers the fifth sense of taste identified by Japanese researchers, umami (translation: “deliciousness.”)
Your food has a deliciousness deficiency.
I would assume that vegetarians would not only be more likely to have a healthy lifestyle, but would also be less likely to be economically disadvantaged. I haven’t been able to find a cite for this, however.
Well, the population of India is largely Hindu, and vegetarian, but their life expectancy is significantly below that of meat-eating populations like the USA & western Europe.
However, I think that is likely due to other factors than just diet.
Bravo sir. (applauds)
Not if the meat eaters eat the vegetarians first. Maybe it doesn’t apply to humans that way, but I’d be willing to bet that in most cases the meat eaters seriously reduce the life spans of vegetarians.
– Of species porcine, “Lisa the Vegetarian”
Lisa: No I can’t! I can’t eat any of them!
Homer: Wait a minute wait a minute wait a minute. Lisa honey, are you
saying you’re never going to eat any animal again? What about
Homer: Pork chops?
Lisa: Dad! Those all come from the same animal!
Homer: [Chuckles] Yeah, right Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.
One risk is that pesticides accumulate in the fat of animals and dairy products.
There have been a few studies on life expectancy differences between groups that have drawn badly wrong conclusions because they confused conditional and unconditional life expectancies. If there is any data backing up this claim, it needs to be scrutinized for similar errors.