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This is one hypothetical day out of many, but if the savings were consistent, the vegan would save nearly $1,280 over the course of a year. A July 2012 Gallup poll puts the percentage of American adults who say they consider themselves vegetarian at 5%, and those who consider themselves vegans—who eat no meat or dairy products—at 2%. The perception of the effects of a vegetarian diet on health has gone through a transformation in the last 20 years. Vegetarian diets, given their restricted nature, are different from omnivore, non-vegetarian diets in many ways. Vegetarian diets that restrict dairy or egg consumption are also lower in vitamin B-2 and D, and calcium [3]. A review of vegetarian diets based on ten studies found that vegetarians had lower intake than omnivores for only a few nutrients: vitamins B-12 and C, calcium and zinc [2]. Vegetarians also tend to differ from the general population in ways not related to diet intake. A number of studies dating back to the 1950s have been done to examine diet-disease associations and many of these looked specifically at the effects of a vegetarian diet on health.
There appears to be strong evidence for the association between vegetarianism and lower risks for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Another comparison study between vegetarians (Californian Seventh-Day Adventists) and non-vegetarians (Californians from five cities) examining risks of having a first-time, fatal heart attack showed that the risks (adjusted for age) were about half that for vegetarians compared to their non-vegetarian counterparts [15]. While these results support a conclusion that a vegetarian diet may protect against heart disease, it can be argued that it is not the restriction of meat from the diet that provides the benefit but an increased consumption of whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables. Most studies also agree on the association between a vegetarian diet and diabetes, with vegetarians having lower rates of diabetes. Many studies have looked at the association between a vegetarian diet and the risk of different cancers В [6]. Finally, many studies have looked at the association between vegetarianism and the risk of mortality (due to all causes). In summary there is evidence that a vegetarian diet protects against cardio-vascular disease, particularly heart disease, and there may be some health benefits related to diabetes and colon cancer. Vegan- Excludes all animal products in the diet and is a practice about a compassionate lifestyle. This rings true for vegetarian processed foods as well, like soy hot dogs or pre-packaged veggie burgers, which can be even more expensive than regular turkey dogs or burgers. In 1980 the American Dietetic Association (ADA) had serious doubts about whether a vegetarian diet was nutritionally sound [1]. There are many types of vegetarians but the classic definition is a person who does not eat meat (including fowl) or seafood, or products containing these foods [2].


The vegetarian diets in these populations may be quite different from those in other areas of the world so the findings may not be generalizable to other populations. In the United States many studies of vegetarians use cohorts of followers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a Christian denomination that promotes, among other things, a wholesome and healthy lifestyle. They tend to have higher proportions of whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and as a result have higher dietary amounts of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins C and E, potassium, and magnesium. This lack of calcium may put vegans who do not supplement with calcium at risk for bone fractures;В  A comparative study of vegetarians and omnivores showed no difference in risk for bone fractures between omnivores and ovo-lacto vegetarians, but vegans had a 30% higher risk [4].
Studies show that vegetarians, on average, are more physically active, drink less alcohol, and smoke less than the general population, and also have higher socioeconomic status and a lower prevalence of being overweight or obese [5].
A combined analysis of 5 prospective studies involving two cohorts of Seventh Day Adventists [8, 9] and a cohort of British [10] and German vegetarians [11] showed that В mortality from heart disease was 24% lower in vegetarians compared to non-vegetarians after adjusting for sex, smoking status and age [12].
A large study showed that the risk of diabetes (adjusted for age) was about twice as high for non-vegetarians as for vegetarians В [14]. A study of 34,000 subjects showed that the risk of colon, breast, lung, prostate and uterine cancer, adjusted for age, sex and smoking, were no different between vegetarians and non-vegetarians [14]. Evidence is lacking, however, for any benefits related to other cancers, other conditions, or mortality rates.
The most inexpensive foods are often plant-derived products, like carrots, oatmeal, and vegetable products. Twenty years later the ADA’s position is that appropriately planned vegetarian diets (including vegan diets) are not only nutritionally adequate but may help prevent certain diseases [2]. People, however, who limit their consumption of red meat, chicken, or fish sometimes refer to themselves as vegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians in these studies are compared to non-vegetarians and their diet, which is a Western omnivore diet that contains significant amounts of meat and meat products.
In fact lacto- and ovo-lacto vegetarians may consume more calcium in their diets than non-vegetarians.
In addition, studies have also examined if vegetarians have lower rates of mortality compared to non-vegetarian counterparts [7]. These studies categorized individuals by degree of vegetarianism and showed that different groups had different rates of mortality from heart disease: pesco and lacto-ovo vegetarians had a 34% lower rate of mortality and vegans had a 26% lower rate. Another large study looking at the prevalence of self-reported diabetes and diabetes-related mortality showed that non-vegetarians reported having diabetes 1 ВЅ to 2 times more often than vegetarians, and that non-vegetarian men were about twice as likely to die from a diabetes-related cause then vegetarian men, after adjusting for age and weight.
In addition, in a pooled analysis of five larger studies looking at cancer mortality rates in vegetarians and non-vegetarians, no differences were found between the two groups after adjusting for ageВ  and smoking status in mortality rates of colorectal, lung, stomach, prostate or breast cancer [12]. Support for the view that vegetarianism reduces the risk of certain diseases comes from a variety of studies.


In studies of vegetarians these individuals are described as ‘semi-vegetarians’ because consumption of these food groups is infrequent or much less than is typically seen in the general population. Given attributes of this study population it is important to keep in mind that research findings may not be generalizable to other vegetarian populations. B-12 is of particular concern to vegetarians, especially vegans, as there is no unfortified plant food that contains any significant amounts of it [2]. Taken together these studies suggest that vegetarian diets (that are appropriately planned and nutritionally adequate) may lower the risk of certain chronic diseases, notably cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension.
No difference in diabetes-related mortality, however was noted between vegetarian and non-vegetarian women in the study [17].
One study suggests that the association between mortality and vegetarianism differs depending on the age group (an age modification effect) with regular meat consumption only associated with increased mortality up until age 60 years. In addition, the fact that vegetarians generally have lower BMIs, lower blood pressure, lower alcohol intake, smoke less, have higher levels of physical activity and have higher socioeconomic levels confounds the issue.
There are also subgroups of people who meet the classic definition of vegetarian but include certain non-meat but animal-derived categories of food (dairy and egg products).В  These generally are ovo- (eat egg or egg products), lacto- (eat dairy or dairy products) or ovo-lacto (eat egg and dairy products) vegetarians, and those who do not eat meat but do consume fish are pesco-vegetarians. B-12 is found in dairy foods and eggs so ovo-lacto vegetarians generally consume adequate amounts.
Of note, hypertension and diabetes also track with BMI and vegetarian diet restriction, with those having the most restricted diet (vegans) having the lowest levels of hypertension and diabetes- about a quarter of the levels of diabetes or hypertension that is seen in non-vegetarians [14]. The take home message is that there may be health benefits to being a vegetarian, but these may be due mostly to eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol consumption and not smoking.
Here is an article I encourage you to read on more of the the differences of Plant-based and Vegan diet.
Other studies, however, differ and suggest that there are no differences between vegetarians and non-vegetarians in terms of all-cause mortality, regardless of age. In a British study of 64,000 individuals 20-89 years old, the risk of mortality for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians was identical after adjusting for age, sex, smoking and alcohol consumption [7].
These results, in turn, are at odds with results of an eleven year follow up study of about 2,000 German vegetarians that showed that all-cause mortality was lower among vegetarians than non-vegetarians.
If nothing else, this table highlights the fact that not all vegetarians are comparable in their diets, and even within a particular category there may be quite a bit of variation in nutrition intake, with the possible exception of vegans and fruitarians who have relatively restricted diets.



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