Do Vegetarians Really Live Longer?

fruit-vegetable-heart-23560151It’s an age-old question that goes something along the lines of: does avoiding meat really help a person to live a longer, happier, healthier life? A biology lecturer from Aston University in Birmingham, U.K., seems to think that the answer to this question is yes, though he admits that the science is still mixed and somewhat unclear.

On the one hand, James Brown points to research suggesting that sticking to a meat-free diet can help prevent early mortality, or put another way, those who consume only vegetables and dairy products are less likely to die early – and this is from any cause. Some research suggests this, including one particular study cited by the Daily Mail Online.

This study looked at nearly 100,000 Americans, all of whom were tracked for five years and observed for health and mortality, with various lifestyle and dietary factors taken into account. What was revealed is that vegetarian diets do appear to be associated with longer lifespans, while carnivores tend to die at a younger age.

Okay, but not all studies agree with this, as many others show no difference at all in mortality rates between meat eaters and non-meat eaters. For one, there are other things that vegetarians might do that help them to live longer than their non-vegetarian counterparts, including exercising more and taking better care of their bodies, in general.

Still, there does appear to be at least some correlation between meat consumption and the formation of chronic health conditions like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer, which is why the question continues to rage on, with no clear answer in sight.

For Brown, the kicker seems to be a combination of environmental factors in addition to diet – things like exercise, whether or not a person smokes, and various other lifestyle preferences – that make all the difference in how long a person lives. Avoiding meat is just one piece of the puzzle, in other words, and it may not even be causative.

It’s a classic case of correlation not necessarily implying causation, or the assumption that because one thing happens alongside another, it must be caused by that other. In reality, things often happen because of a multitude of external factors, including dietary preferences that may or may not include meat.

“Studies have shown that people tend to under-report calorie intake and over-report healthy food consumption,” writes Brown for the Daily Mail Online. “Without actually controlling the diet of groups of people and measuring how long they live, it is difficult to have absolute confidence in findings.”

Avoid GMOs, eat only grass-fed meats, and steer clear of the pesticides!

This seems like a fair assessment, but what’s the takeaway then? Avoiding meat could help extend a person’s lifespan, Brown admits, but this isn’t a given. The key to healthy aging – and avoiding dying young – is a product of a multitude of environment and lifestyle factors that are in-line with healthy living overall.

Natural News readers will know this to mean things like avoiding genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), sticking with pesticide- and herbicide-free fruits and vegetables whenever possible, and avoiding factory-farmed meat products. If you’re a meat-eater, sticking with 100 percent grass-fed and pasture-raised meats will ensure that you get only the highest quality proteins and fats in your diet, including healthy saturated fats.

One study from the Union of Concerned Scientists, written by a University of California, Berkeley researcher, found that pastured, grass-fed beef is lower in total fat than factory-farmed metas, but high in both omega-3 fatty acids and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), both of which can help lower the risk of heart disease and other forms of chronic illness.

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