The health benefits of vegan diets

For those who are still not convinced that plant-based (vegan) diets are likely healthier than average Western omnivorous diets: here is an avalanche of more than 100 scientific studies, including recent large-scale prospective cohort studies, randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews and meta-analyses published in peer reviewed top journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the Britisch Medical Journal (BMJ) and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). (For the environmental studies, see here)

Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (2016). Position of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics 116(12): 1970–1980.

Orlich MJ. e.a. (2013). Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and Mortality in Adventist Health Study 2. JAMA Intern Med.173(13):1230-1238.

Dinu M. e.a. (2016). Vegetarian, vegan diets and multiple health outcomes: a systematic review with meta-analysis of observational studies. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2016.1138447

Le LT. & Sabaté J. (2014). Beyond Meatless, the Health Effects of Vegan Diets: Findings from the Adventist Cohorts. Nutrients 6(6): 2131–2147.

Clarys P. e.a. (2014). Comparison of Nutritional Quality of the Vegan, Vegetarian, Semi-Vegetarian, Pesco-Vegetarian and Omnivorous Diet. Nutrients, 6(3):1318-1332.

Springmann, M. e.a. (2016). Analysis and valuation of the health and climate change cobenefits of dietary change. PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1523119113.

Van Dooren C. e.a. (2014). Exploring dietary guidelines based on ecological and nutritional values: A comparison of six dietary patterns. Food Policy 44:36–46.

Tuso P. e.a. (2013). Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets. Perm J. 17(2): 61–66.

Fraser GE. (1999). Associations between diet and cancer, ischemic heart disease, and all-cause mortality in non-Hispanic white California Seventh-day Adventists. Am J Clin Nutr. 70(3 Suppl):532S-538S.

Fraser GE & Shavlik DJ. (2001). Ten years of life: Is it a matter of choice? Arch Intern Med. 161(13):1645-52.

Huang T., e.a. (2012). Cardiovascular Disease Mortality and Cancer Incidence in Vegetarians: A Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review. Ann Nutr Metab; 60:233–240.

Snowdon DA (1988). Animal product consumption and mortality because of all causes combined, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer in Seventh-day Adventists. Am J Clin Nutr 48(suppl):739–48.

Song M. e.a. (2016). Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality. JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.4182.

Fung T. e.a. (2010). Low-carbohydrate diets and all-cause and cause-specific mortality: Two cohort Studies. Ann Intern Med. 153(5): 289–298.

Singh R. e.a. (2003). Does low meat consumption increase life expectancy in humans? American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 78 (3).

Cai H. e.a. (2007). A prospective study of dietary patterns and mortality in Chinese women. Epidemiology 18(3):393-401.

Bamia C. e.a. (2007). Dietary patterns and survival of older Europeans: the EPIC-Elderly Study (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition). Public Health Nutr. 10(6):590-8.

Campbell TC, Junshi C. & Bandoo P (1998). Diet, lifestyle, and the etiology of coronary artery disease: the Cornell China Study. The American Journal of Cardiology, 82(10):18–21.

Sinha R. e.a. (2009). Meat Intake and Mortality. A Prospective Study of Over Half a Million People. Arch Intern Med. 169(6):562-571.

Pan A. e.a. (2012). Red Meat Consumption and Mortality. Results From 2 Prospective Cohort Studies. Arch Intern Med. 172(7):555-563.

Micha R, Michas G, Mozaffarian D. (2012). Unprocessed red and processed meats and risk of coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes—an updated review of the evidence. Curr Atheroscler Rep 14:515-24.

Micha R, Wallace SK, Mozaffarian D. (2010). Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Circulation 121(21):2271-83.

Larsson SC, Orsini N. (2014) Red meat and processed meat consumption and all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis. Am J Epidemiol. 179(3):282-9.

Levine M. e.a. (2014) Low Protein Intake Is Associated with a Major Reduction in IGF-1, Cancer, and Overall Mortality in the 65 and Younger but Not Older Population. Cell Metabolism 19:1–11.

Rohrmann e.a. (2013) Meat consumption and mortality – results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. BMC Med.11:63.

Knutsen SF. (1994). Lifestyle and the use of health services. Am J Clin Nutr. 59(5 Suppl):1171S-1175S.

Key TJ, Davey GK & Appleby PN (1999). Health benefits of a vegetarian diet. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 58 (2) : 271-275.

Key TJ e.a. (1999). Mortality in vegetarians and nonvegetarians: detailed findings from a collaborative analysis of 5 prospective studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 70(3 Suppl):516S-524S.

Appleby PN, Thorogood M, Mann JI, Key TJ (1999). The Oxford Vegetarian Study: an overview. Am J Clin Nutr.70(3 Suppl):525S-531S.

Fraser GE. (2009). Vegetarian diets: what do we know of their effects on common chronic diseases? Am J Clin Nutr. 89(5):1607S-1612S.

Fung TT e.a. (2010). Low-carbohydrate diets and all-cause and cause-specific mortality: two cohort studies. Ann Intern Med. 153(5):289-98.

Wang X e.a. (2014). Fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies

Hartley L e.a. (2013). Increased consumption of fruit and vegetables for the primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 6:CD009874.

Grosso G. e.a. (2015). Nut consumption on all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of epidemiologic studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 101(4):783-93.

Li Y. e.a. (2013). Egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes: a meta-analysis. Atherosclerosis. 229(2):524-30.

Wang F. e.a. (2015). Effects of Vegetarian Diets on Blood Lipids: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. J Am Heart Assoc. 27;4(10):e002408.

Anderson JW. e.a. (1995). Meta-analysis of the effects of soy protein intake on serum lipids. New England Journal of Medicine 333(5):276-82.

Crowe F.L., Appleby P.N., Travis R.C., & Key T.J. (2013). Risk of hospitalization or death from ischemic heart disease among British vegetarians and nonvegetarians: results from the EPIC-Oxford cohort study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition January 30, 2013.

Baer HJ, Glynn RJ, Hu FB, Hankinson SE, Willett WC, Colditz GA, Stampfer M, Rosner B. (2011). Risk factors for mortality in the nurses’ health study: a competing risks analysis. Am J Epidemiol.173(3):319-329.

Hooper L, e.a. (2012). Reduced or modified dietary fat for preventing cardiovascular disease. The Cochrane Library (5): CD002137

Lloyd-Williams, F. e.a., (2008). Estimating the cardiovascular mortality burden attributable to the European Common Agriculture Policy on dietary saturated fats. Bulletin of the World Health Organisation, 86 (7).

Pettersen BJ, Anousheh R, Fan J, Jaceldo-Siegl K, Fraser GE. (2012) Vegetarian diets and blood pressure among white subjects: results from the Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2) Public Health Nut. 5(10):1909-16.

Yokoyama Y, Nishimura K, Barnard ND, (2014). Vegetarian diets and blood pressure: a meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med 174:577–87.

Huang RY, e.a. (2016). Vegetarian Diets and Weight Reduction: a Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. J Gen Intern Med. 31(1):109-16.

Berkow SE, Barnard N. (2006). Vegetarian diets and weight status. Nutr Rev. 64(4):175-88.

Appleby PN, Thorogood M, Mann JI, Key TJ. (1998). Low body mass index in non-meat eaters: the possible roles of animal fat, dietary fibre and alcohol. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord.22(5):454-60.

Esselstyn C & Golubic M (2014). The Nutritional Reversal of Cardiovascular Disease – Fact or Fiction? Three Case Reports. Exp Clin Cardiol 20(7):1901-1908.

Esselstyn C (1999). Updating a 12-year experience with arrest and reversal therapy for coronary heart disease (an overdue requiem for palliative cardiology). Am J Cardiol. 84(3):339-41, A8.

Bouvard V. e.a. (International Agency for Research on Cancer Monograph Working Group) (2015). Carcinogenicity of consumption of red and processed meat. The Lancet Oncology 16(16):1599–1600.

Key TJ, Appleby PN, Crowe FL, Bradbury KE, Schmidt JA, Travis RC. (2014) Cancer in British vegetarians: updated analyses of 4998 incident cancers in a cohort of 32,491 meat eaters, 8612 fish eaters, 18,298 vegetarians, and 2246 vegans. Am J Clin Nutr. 100 Suppl 1:378S-85S.

Key TJ, Appleby PN, Spencer EA, Travis RC, Allen NE, Thorogood M, Mann JI. (2009). Cancer incidence in British vegetarians. Br J Cancer. 101(1):192-7.

Key TJ, Appleby PN, Spencer EA, Travis RC, Roddam AW, Allen NE. (2009). Cancer incidence in vegetarians: results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Oxford). Am J Clin Nutr. 89(5):1620S-1626S.

Tantamango-Bartley Y, Jaceldo-Siegl K, Fan J, Fraser G. (2013). Vegetarian diets and the incidence of cancer in a low-risk population. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 22(2):286-94.

World Cancer Research Centre (2012) Red and processed meat: finding the balance for cancer prevention.

Cross AJ e.a. (2007) A Prospective Study of Red and Processed Meat Intake in Relation to Cancer Risk PLOS Medicine.

Alexander DD, Morimoto LM, Mink PJ, Cushing CA. (2010). A review and meta-analysis of red and processed meat consumption and breast cancer. Nutr Res Rev. 23(2):349-65

Li F, An S, Hou L, Chen P, Lei C, Tan W. (2014). Red and processed meat intake and risk of bladder cancer: a meta-analysis. Int J Clin Exp Med.7(8):2100-10.

Santarelli RL, Pierre F & Corpet DE. (2008). Processed meat and colorectal cancer: a review of epidemiologic and experimental evidence. Nutr Cancer. 60(2): 131–144.

Breslow, R.A.; Graubard, B.I.; Sinha, R.; Subar, A.F. (2000). Diet and lung cancer mortality: a 1987 National Health Interview Survey cohort study. Cancer Causes & Control 11 (5) : 419-431.

Barnard RJ, Gonzalez JH, Liva ME, Ngo TH. (2006) Effects of a low-fat, high-fiber diet and exercise program on breast cancer risk factors in vivo and tumor cell growth and apoptosis in vitro. Nutr Cancer.55(1):28-34.

Taylor EF, e.a. (2007) Meat consumption and risk of breast cancer in the UK Women’s Cohort Study British Journal of Cancer 96, 1139–1146

Nöthlings U. e.a. (2005). Meat and Fat Intake as Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer: The Multiethnic Cohort Study Journal of the National Cancer Institute 97 (19): 1458-1465.

Larsson et al., (2012) Red and processed meat consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer: meta-analysis of prospective studies; British Journal of Cancer 106:603–607.

Van der Pols JC. e.a. (2007). Childhood dairy intake and adult cancer risk: 65-y follow-up of the Boyd Orr cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. 86(6):1722-9.

Aune D e.a. (2015). Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 101(1):87-117.

Torfadottir JE e.a. (2012). Milk intake in early life and risk of advanced prostate cancer. Am J Epidemiol. 175(2):144-53.

Qin L., He K. & Xu J. (2009). Milk consumption and circulating insulin-like growth factor-I level: a systematic literature review. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 60S, 330S–340S.

Orlich MJ e.a. (2015) . Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and the Risk of Colorectal Cancers. JAMA Intern Med.

Norat T et al. (2002) Meat consumption and colorectal cancer risk: a dose—response meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. International Journal of Cancer, 98:241-256.

Fraser GE. (1999) Associations between diet and cancer, ischemic heart disease, and all-cause mortality in non-Hispanic white California Seventh-day Adventists. Am J Clin Nutr. 70(3 Suppl):532S-538S.

Ornish D. e.a. (2005). Intensive lifestyle changes may affect the progression of prostate cancer. J Urol. 174(3):1065-9.

Kolonel LN (2001). Fat, meat and prostate cancer. Epidemiol Rev.23(1):72-81.

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Allen NE e.a. (2013). Macronutrient intake and risk of urothelial cell carcinoma in the European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition. Int J Cancer. 1;132(3):635-44.

Allen NE, Appleby PN, Davey GK, Kaaks R, Rinaldi S, Key TJ (2002) The associations of diet with serum insulin-like growth factor I and its main binding proteins in 292 women meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 11(11):1441-8.

McCarty MF, Barroso-Aranda J, Contreras F. (2009) The low-methionine content of vegan diets may make methionine restriction feasible as a life extension strategy. Med Hypotheses. 72(2):125-8.

Cavuoto P, Fenech MF. (2012) A review of methionine dependency and the role of methionine restriction in cancer growth control and life-span extension. Cancer Treat Rev.38(6):726-36.

Cross et al. (2005). A prospective study of meat and meat mutagens and prostate cancer risk. Cancer Res, 65: 11779-11784.

Larsson et al. (2005). Meat consumption and risk of cancers of the proximal colon, distal colon and rectum: the Swedish Mammography Cohort, Red. Int J Cancer, 113: 829–34.

Wakabayashia K. and Sugimura T. (1998). Heterocyclic amines formed in the diet: carcinogenicity and its modulation by dietary factors. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 9(11): 604-612.

Bastide, N.M., e.a. (2011), Heme iron from meat and risk of colorectal cancer: a meta-analysis and a review of the mechanisms involved. Cancer Prev Res (Phila), 4, 177-84

Lane, H.W.; Carpenter, J.T. Jr. (1987). Breast cancer: incidence, nutritional concerns, and treatment approaches. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 87(6) : 765-769.

Barone, J.; Herbert, J.R.; Reddy, M.M. (1989). Dietary fat and natural-killer-cell activity. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 50 (4) : 861-867.

Malter, M. Schriever, G.; Eilber, U. (1989). Natural killer cells, vitamins, and other blood components of vegetarian and omnivorous men. Nutrition and Cancer 12 (3) : 271-278.

Barnard RJ, Ngo TH, Leung PS, Aronson WJ, Golding LA. (2003). A low-fat diet and/or strenuous exercise alters the IGF axis in vivo and reduces prostate tumor cell growth in vitro. Prostate, 56(3):201-6.

Steinmetz KA, Potter JD. (1996). Vegetables, fruit, and cancer prevention: a review. J Am Diet Assoc. 96(10):1027-39.

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Barnard, ND.e.a. (2014). Saturated and trans fats and dementia: a systematic review. Neurobiol Aging. 35 Suppl 2:S65-73.

Giem P, Beeson WL, Fraser GE. (1993). The incidence of dementia and intake of animal products: preliminary findings from the Adventist Health Study. Neuroepidemiology 12(1):28-36.

Mattson, M. (2002). Diet-Brain Connection: Impact on Memory, Mood, Aging and Disease, Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Morris MC, Evans EA, Bienias JL (2003). Dietary fats and the risk of incident Alzheimer disease. Arch. Neurol. 60:194-200.

Laitinen MH, Ngandu T, Robio S. (2006). Fat intake at midlife and risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: A population-based study. Dement. Geriatr. Cogn. Disorder 22:99-107.

Baroni L, Bonetto C, Tessan F, Goldin D, Cenci L, Magnanini P, Zuliani G. (2011). Pilot dietary study with normoproteic protein-redistributed plant-food diet and motor performance in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Nutr Neurosci. 14(1):1-9.

Chen H. e.a. (2007). Consumption of dairy products and risk of Parkinson’s disease. Am J Epidemiol. 165(9):998-1006.

Kyrozis A. e.a. (2013). Dietary and lifestyle variables in relation to incidence of Parkinson’s disease in Greece. Eur J Epidemiol. 28(1):67-77.

Chen GC, Lv DB, Pang Z, Liu QF. (2013) Red and processed meat consumption and risk of stroke: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Eur J Clin Nutr. 67(1):91-5.

D’Elia L., Barba G, Cappuccio FP, Strazzullo P. (2011). Potassium intake, stroke, and cardiovascular disease a meta-analysis of prospective studies. J Am Coll Cardiol. 57(10):1210-9.

Walda IC, Tabak C, Smit HA, Räsänen L, Fidanza F, Menotti A, Nissinen A, Feskens EJ, Kromhout D. (2002). Diet and 20-year chronic obstructive pulmonary disease mortality in middle-aged men from three European countries. Eur J Clin Nutr.56(7):638-43.

Tabak, C. e.a. (1999). Dietary factors and pulmonary function: a cross sectional study in middle aged men from three European countries.Thorax;54:1021-1026

Hirayama F, Lee AH, Binns CW, Zhao Y, Hiramatsu T, Tanikawa Y, Nishimura K, Taniguchi H. (2009). Soy consumption and risk of COPD and respiratory symptoms: a case-control study in Japan. Respir Res. 26;10:56.

Varraso R, Willett WC, Camargo CA Jr. (2010). Prospective study of dietary fiber and risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among US women and men. Am J Epidemiol.171(7):776-84.

Jiang R., Paik D.C., Hankinson J.L, & Barr, R.G. (2007). Cured Meat Consumption, Lung Function, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease among United States Adults. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol. 175(8) pp. 798-804.

Keranis E. e.a. (2010). Impact of dietary shift to higher-antioxidant foods in COPD: a randomised trial. Eur Respir J.36(4):774-80.

Gibson A e.a. (2012). Effect of fruit and vegetable consumption on immune function in older people: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr.96(6):1429-36.

Rosenkranz SK, Townsend DK, Steffens SE, Harms CA. (2010) Effects of a high-fat meal on pulmonary function in healthy subjects. Eur J Appl Physiol. 109(3):499-506.

Ghanim H, Abuaysheh S, Sia CL, Korzeniewski K, Chaudhuri A, Fernandez-Real JM, Dandona P. (2009). Increase in plasma endotoxin concentrations and the expression of Toll-like receptors and suppressor of cytokine signaling-3 in mononuclear cells after a high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal: implications for insulin resistance. Diabetes Care. 32(12):2281-7.

Beezhold B.L. & Johnston C.S. (2012). Restriction of meat, fish, and poultry in omnivores improves mood: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Nutr J. 11: 9.

Nanri A. e.a. (2010). Dietary patterns and depressive symptoms among Japanese men and women. Eur J Clin Nutr. 64(8):832-9.

Beezhold B, Johnston C & Daigle D (2010). Vegetarian diets are associated with healthy mood states: a cross-sectional study in Seventh Day Adventist adults. Nutrition Journal, 9:26

Oddy W. e.a. (2009). The association between dietary patterns and mental health in early adolescence. Prev Med. 49(1):39-44.

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Aune, D., Ursin, G. & Veierød, M. B. (2009). Meat consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Diabetologia 52, 22772287.

Shang, X. e.a. (2016). Dietary protein intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study and a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Am J Clin Nutr. pii: ajcn140954.

Tonstad, S., Butler T., Yan R. & Fraser G.E. (2009). Type of Vegetarian Diet, Body Weight, and Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care vol. 32(5):791-796.

Tonstad S, Stewart K, Oda K, Batech M, Herring RP, Fraser GE. (2013). Vegetarian diets and incidence of diabetes in the Adventist Health Study-2. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis.23(4):292-9.

Vang A, Singh PN, Lee JW, Haddad EH, Brinegar CH. (2008). Meats, processed meats, obesity, weight gain and occurrence of diabetes among adults: findings from Adventist Health Studies. Ann Nutr Metab.;52(2):96-104.

Barnard ND, Katcher HI, Jenkins DJ, Cohen J, Turner-McGrievy G. (2009). Vegetarian and vegan diets in type 2 diabetes management. Nutr Rev. 67(5):255-63.

Barnard ND, Cohen J, Jenkins DJ, Turner-McGrievy G, Gloede L, Green A, Ferdowsian H. (2009). A low-fat vegan diet and a conventional diabetes diet in the treatment of type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled, 74-wk clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;89(5):1588S-1596S.

Kahleova H. & Pelikanova T. (2015). Vegetarian diets in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 34(5):448-58.

Marsh K. & Brand-Miller J. (2011). Vegetarian Diets and Diabetes. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 5, 135–143.

Lee Y.M., Kim S.A., Lee I.K. (2016). Effect of a brown rice based vegan diet and conventional diabetic diet on glycemic control of patients with type 2 diabetes: a 12-week randomized clinical trial. PLoS One 11: e0155918.

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Jantchou P. e.a. (2010) Animal protein intake and risk of inflammatory bowel disease: The E3N prospective study. Am J Gastroenterol. 105(10):2195-201.

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