Vegetarians or meat eaters, who live longer? It’s well known that our life expectancy depends on our genetics predispositions and environment. When we say environment, we mean on the style of life and eating habits. What is more important to know is that one study showed that the environment has the bigger impact on our health than the genetics. Translated in numbers: 30 % genes and 70 % lifestyle. This is a significant difference in favor of the environment.
People long ago has developed differences in food consumption. The main division is vegetarians and meat eaters. So, what are the pros and cons for both group and finally, who live longer and healthier?
The reasons for becoming vegetarian are various. Someone is vegetarian because of religious beliefs. Someone think it’s healthier. Yet, someone just prefers to eat plant-based foods. In any cases, there is two subgroups: Ovo-Lacto and Vegan. The first subgroup does not eat meat but does consume some animal products such as eggs and dairy. Thes second subgroup is strict and excludes all animal-based products. Most vegetarians fall into the Ovo-Lacto category.
Vegetarians tend to eat less saturated fats – found in meat and dairy products – and more unsaturated fats – such as olive oil, peanut oil, and sunflower oil. Scientists from Loma Linda University conducted the study, where they tracked 100,000 Americans for five years. The results showed that non-meat eaters were less likely to die – of any cause – during the study period than meat eaters. This applies, particularly to the males. Vegetarians appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension.
The biggest advantage of meat eaters is nutritious resources that can be found in meat. For example, vitamin B12 is only found in meat, fish, eggs, and milk. It’s vital for the formation of red blood cells and nerve fibers.
Also, 2/3 of protein comes from meat, fish, eggs and dairy food. We mustn’t forget the iron: iron from animal sources is more easily absorbed than iron from plant sources. On the other hand, too many of these resources can cause saturated fats. Further, it can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, and therefore increase the risk of heart disease. Lats year, IARC – the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, has classified processed meat as a carcinogen. They found that eating 50 grams of processed meat every day increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. So, it seems like eating meat has their own risk.
Finally, can we say that vegetarians live longer than meat-eaters?
Actually, we can’t. Yet.
First of all, there is no such a study that can be conducted for 71 years ( approximate life expectancy of an average man ) in order to find a direct link between eating habits and cause of death. In most cases, the death causes various factors that don’t have to be relevant to the food. For example meat eaters may drink more alcohol or to smoke. But what is for sure, we can find the balance between vegetables and meat and increase our life expectancy as much as possible.