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Default Vegans do not live longer unless........

Excerpted from Dr. Michael Gregor's( the "vegan md") newsletter at:


A. Biggest Study on Vegetarians in History Finally Published

Do vegetarians live longer than the general population?
Absolutely! Vegetarians outlast the general population by perhaps as
much as ten healthy years--a whole extra decade on Earth! (maybe as a
karmic reward for living lives dedicated to justice and compassion

But naysayers like the Cattlemen's Association like to ascribe
the extra years to "Non-dietary aspects of a vegetarian lifestyle such
as regular physical activity and abstinence from smoking..."[1]. But
we argued it was because we didn't eat meat. Is our extra decade
because we just tend to smoke less and exercise, or is it because of
what we actually eat?

To answer that question, researchers tried to control for
these other factors by comparing vegetarians to healthy meat-eaters.
To tease out the contribution of diet, researchers compared
vegetarians to meat-eaters who were just as lean as vegetarians,
smoked just as little and had similar social class or education (and
who were of course the same age and gender). And what they found
shocked them--the vegetarians did not seem to live any longer than the
healthy meat-eaters[2]. Wait a second, who did this study? The meat
and dairy board? No, the principal investigator is an animal rights

Yes, the vegetarians in the study lived six years longer than
the general population, but so did the meat-eaters! Other than their
healthy lifestyles, this group of meat-eaters studied ate more fruits
and veggies than your typical meat-eater and less meat. Wondering if
that's why they weren't seeing a greater vegetarian advantage, the
researchers compared the vegetarians to just those that ate meat
regularly. And although there was no survival advantage over those
that just ate meat a few times a month, vegetarians did seem to live
about two years longer than those who ate meat every week. But just
two years longer? We deserve better than that! And the vegans in the
study did even worse

Now of course these were studies of mortality only. We as
vegetarians and vegans still have less heart disease, less obesity,
less hypertension, less diabetes, less colon cancer, less
constipation, less diverticulosis, less arthritis, less
appendicitis--you name it. So it still makes sense to go vegetarian
and vegan, even if just for health reasons alone, but you'd think with
all that we'd have a bigger survival advantage. What's going on? If,
for example, you look at our cholesterol, the biggest risk factor for
the number one killer, vegetarians should be kicking all sorts of
meat-eater butt and the vegans should be kicking the most butt of all.

Well that was 1999. Maybe it was just a fluke. In 2002, an
update on the Oxford Vegetarian Study was published which had been
following 8,000 vegetarians for 18 years. And sadly they found the
same thing--those that didn't eat meat didn't live any longer than
those that did eat meat (after all the other variables were taken into
account)[3]. What's going on?

And finally, just last month the mortality results from the
single biggest study on vegetarians in human history was published,
following almost 18,000 vegetarians. I had been waiting years to get
my hands on it. And it shows... no survival advantage[4]. What's going

The good news is that we think we do know what's going on. For
a more in depth discussion you can listen to, or watch, my Optimum
Vegetarian Nutrition talk on-line, (or on CD). The bottom line is that
our inadequate intake of vitamin B12 is literally killing us. In fact
the one study in which we did show a survival advantage was the one
population of vegetarians that were routinely supplementing their diet
with B12 fortified foods. Please see Jack Norris's excellent article
on B12 for the latest on what we need to do to optimize our B12

It's estimated that if vegans just took their B12, they'd live
4 years longer. There's no pill on the planet that can enable the
average meat-eater to live years longer. Our diet is just so
near-perfect all we need to do is get our B12 and we'll leave everyone
else in the dust. And it would also help us if we improved our omega-3
fatty acid status (see below).

Let's prove the cattlemen wrong!
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John Coleman
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Default Vegans do not live longer unless........

Is this a new study? From what I last heard the number of vegans in the
Oxford study were too few to be conclusive, even adding up all the study
data available, there were still too few vegans. Furthermore typical vegan
diets reduce total cholesterol to around the 150 to 160 level which is not
particularly low.

Maintaining sufficient B12 status is potentially beneficial irrespective of
type of diet eaten. Meat eaters can take B12 supplements and probably
benefit as well. For example, the B12 in meat is often poorly absorbed by
the elderly, yet they are in a high risk group.

The news is still good for veg*n diets, they reduce risk vs the standard
omnivore diet, but the data so far doesn't support a need to remove animal
products totally from the diet for the best longevity.


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