Sunday, January 8, 2023

Are Vegans Healthy?

 Let's find out!

There has been an interesting study done by the University of Loma Linda which is called Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and Mortality in Adventist Health Study 2

The researchers divided all the participants into 5 categories: omnivores and 4 groups of vegetarians, namely semi-vegetarians, pescatarians, lacto-ovo vegetarians and vegans and then followed them up for 5+ years (you can read the details if you click on the link above).

Omnivores were used as a control case with their mortality at 1 and compared with the other 4 groups. An interesting pattern emerged. Among men, vegans appeared to be in the least danger of dying prematurely:


                                   All-CauseIschemic Heart DiseaseCardiovascular DiseaseCancerOther
Men (n = 25 105), No. of deathsa1031169390273368
  Vegan0.72 (0.56–0.92)0.45 (0.21–0.94)0.58 (0.38–0.89)0.81 (0.48–1.36)0.81 (0.53–1.22)
  Lacto-ovo0.86 (0.74–1.01)0.76 (0.52–1.12)0.77 (0.59–0.99)1.01 (0.75–1.37)0.89 (0.69–1.15)
  Pesco0.73 (0.57–0.93)0.77 (0.45–1.30)0.66 (0.44–0.98)1.10 (0.73–1.67)0.60 (0.39–0.93)
  Semi0.93 (0.68–1.26)0.73 (0.33–1.60)0.75 (0.43–1.32)1.15 (0.65–2.03)1.03 (0.62–1.71)
 Nonvegetarian1 [Reference]1 [Reference]1 [Reference]1 [Reference]1 [Reference]

As you can see, vegan mortality is in some cases as low as the half of that of omnivores, and that is especially the case for Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD) and Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). Pescatarians are in the 2nd place. That basically corresponds to what the doctors who are proponents of veganism are saying in their YouTube videos (Dr. Esselstyn, anyone?) And also with some testimonies I read online of men who swear by this lifestyle. 

However, when we look at women, the situation is completely different:


                                    All-CauseIschemic Heart DiseaseCardiovascular DiseaseCancerOther
Women (n = 48 203), No. of deathsa,c1529203597433499
  Vegan0.97 (0.78–1.20)1.39 (0.87–2.24)1.18 (0.88–1.60)0.99 (0.69–1.44)0.70 (0.47–1.05)
  Lacto-ovo0.94 (0.83–1.07)0.85 (0.59–1.22)0.99 (0.81–1.22)0.85 (0.67–1.09)0.93 (0.75–1.17)
  Pesco0.88 (0.72–1.07)0.51 (0.26–0.99)0.90 (0.66–1.23)0.86 (0.61–1.21)0.81 (0.58–1.15)
  Semi0.92 (0.70–1.22)1.09 (0.60–1.98)0.93 (0.64–1.34)0.85 (0.56–1.30)0.97 (0.64–1.47)
 Nonvegetarian1 [Reference]1 [Reference]1 [Reference]1 [Reference]1 [Reference]

Women not only don't have any advantages from the vegan diet, their heart disease mortality rates (both from IHD and CVD) are in some cases double that of omnivores. How comes?

Here is my theory. As we all probably know, women are protected from heart disease as long as they menstruate (especially if they aren't using hormonal birth control, but that's another topic). There is also research that demonstrates that vegetarian and especially vegan females go into menopause earlier and there are enough ex-vegan women telling all sorts of horror stories about the problems with their cycles which caused them to quit. 

On the other hand, there is also research which says that red meat and refined carbs are associated with earlier menopause while oily fish and legumes delay it. 

(...every additional daily portion of oily fish and legumes was linked to a delay in menopause of roughly three years...)

When we go back to our table above, we see that female pescatarians have the IHD mortality the half of omnivores. So it appears that my theory has some basis behind it. 

So are vegans healthy? It depends on whether they are male or female. Apparently, men and women have different needs. While men benefit from low-fat diets, women need fat to stay fertile (and healthy) longer:

(The study team noted that the high-fiber/low-animal fat content in vegetarian meals has previously been linked to low estrogen levels.)

An ironic thing is that there are many more female than male vegans. Well, you can read these studies yourself and draw your own conclusions:)  


  1. I've never really bought into the nonsense that vegans are healthier. I'm sure if we all eliminated most carbs and sugars and processed oils that would be better for everyone. Then there is the issue of what is fed to these animals.

  2. There is nothing wrong with slow carbs, it's all this processed sugary stuff which is bad for you. I don't think one needs to be a vegan to be healthy. It's a rather restrictive way of eating. Med diet comes out as the best health diet, year after year. Still, it's proven that low fat diets are good for heart patients and those with high blood pressure. On the other hand, there is research saying women need full fat dairy to ovulate. I have always suspected that women of childbearing age have different needs than middle-aged men and I think this research proves it...