What’s the healthiest human diet? With so many trending options — vegetarian, pescotarian, semi-vegetarian, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, vegan, vegan before six — it’s hard to decide what’s best for our bodies. Recently, though, we were given a little insight. According to a recent study, which looked at a range of different diets, decreasing meat consumption means improving health.
Conducted at Loma Linda University in California and led by Michael J. Orlich, MD, the medical study analyzed over 70,000 Seventh-day Adventists, who practice vegetarianism. The study found that vegetarians demonstrated a reduced risk of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. With that, vegetarians were determined twelve percent less likely to die from all-cause mortality than were meat-eaters.
Because researchers defined the vegetarian category as having four dietary patterns — including those who eat fish and those who eat meat no more than once a week — the results suggest that there is a growing accessibility to a vegetarian lifestyle, in addition to the increased benefits of having one.
However, according to Robert B. Baron, MD, MS, who responded to the research in JAMA Internal Medicine, it is important to note the nature of the study and remember that “like all observational studies, this one provides associations, not cause-and-effect evidence.” While the study concluded that vegetarians are less likely to develop certain diseases, it did not determine whether this pattern is caused by their specific diet or their overall lifestyle.
The bottom line is, they’re doing something right, and a few less hamburgers never hurt anyone, anyways.