The vegan way of life is gaining ground in modern times. Proponents of the vegan diet assert that this lifestyle improves health outcomes and is overall better for the environment. But do vegans actually live longer than their meat-eating counterparts?
A study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine says so. It was found in the study that vegans are at a lower risk of all-cause mortality by 9% compared to omnivores. Although another study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no significant difference between the mortality rates of vegans and non-vegetarians. However, it did confirm that veganism lowers rates of certain chronic illnesses.
In other words, there is no concrete evidence to support the study that claims veganism trumps non-vegetarianism. Yet, there is a general assumption that the vegan diet is superior to meat consumption.
"Vegan diets have been linked to the reduction of risk for multiple chronic health conditions associated with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and obesity. Due to its potential disease prevention links, it is not surprising that vegans may live longer, as following a vegan diet is linked to reduced occurrence of chronic disease. However, more research is needed to definitively conclude that vegans live longer than non-vegans," Brooke Jacob, a registered dietitian at ChristianaCare told LiveScience.
Veganism is the form of diet wherein people abstain from any animal products or by-products. There are no hard and fast rules as people decide their limit to how much they want to commit to the cause. For instance, some vegans avoid honey in their food as it is technically an animal by-product while others do not mind consuming honey.
Veganism can also be applied to different aspects of a lifestyle. One can follow the principles of veganism in makeup products and even hygiene products.
If a balanced diet is maintained, Jacob believes the type of diet then is secondary.
"The key piece of the puzzle with all diets is to stick with a good variation of the foods you consume. That way, you ensure that you get a variety of nutrients to help meet your needs. Consuming a vegan diet that offers a cornucopia of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts will help you maintain optimal nutrition," Jacob said.
"It's also wise to consider adding proper supplements to the diet, and to ensure that you meet your iron, calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D needs, depending on what foods you choose not to consume," he added.
Veganism is a long-term commitment that one has to be sure of before beginning the journey.
"The duration of time in which people stick to vegan diets, or other diets, is dependent upon the goals they set and their readiness to embrace change," Jacob further said. "A vegan diet can be sustainable if the person is ready to change, focused on their goals, and views their diet as more of a lifestyle change instead of simply a 'diet'."