Looking for some compelling information on the connection between plant-based diets and good health? Check out these stories and links to the latest studies.


Dietitian Sharon Palmer (left) and Oldways President Sara Baer-Sinnott launched the Oldways Vegetarian Network at the 6th International Congress of Vegetarian Nutrition at Loma Linda University in February.

Oldways Attends Vegetarian Congress at Loma Linda

In February, Oldways sponsored the 6th International Congress of Vegetarian Nutrition (ICVN)  at Loma Linda University, which  included about 700 attendees. At a booth, President Sara Baer-Sinnott  and plant-based dietitian Sharon Palmer introduced the Oldways Vegetarian Network.

Here is Sharon’s report on Highlights from the Adventists Health Study, following 96,000 Seventh-Day Adventists, which was presented at the ICVN.

Early findings show a linear relationship with risk and diet. The most striking features of the data are the great range of BMIs: vegans 23.6, lacto-ovo vegetarian 25.7, pescatarians 26.3, semi-vegetarian 27.3, non-vegetarian 28.8. 

  • There is a 5 point difference from highest to lowest in this diet pattern. This linear relationship was seen with hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cholesterol, CRP (inflammation), and insulin. 
  • The overall cancer risk in all vegetarians was 8% lower than non-vegetarians and vegans did the best in this category. 
  • GI cancers among all vegetarians was 24% lower. The conclusion (not published yet) is that vegan diets may be particularly beneficial for overall cancer and female cancers. 
  • Mortality increased across the spectrum of diets, with a 12% reduction in all cause mortality in all vegetarian groups (even lower in vegan) and 19% reduction in ischemic heart disease mortality. Adventists span a wide variety of diets, but vegetarians have much lower BMI, less hypertension and diabetes, lower blood glucose, cholesterol, CRP, and BMI in adventist vegetarians.  You could save 140,000 lives per year by being a semi-vegetarian, and 400,000 be being vegan. 

  • An analysis of sustainability was also performed in the five diets, which showed vegan had the lowest impact, with the trend going all the way up to non-vegetarian diets towards increasing of the carbon footprint. From vegan to non-vegetarian, the addition of animal foods influences the carbon footprint of the diet. A reduction of carbon footprint can be seen across the diets, semi-vegetarian lowered carbon footprint by 20%, pescatarian by  25%, lactovo vegetarian by 33%, and vegan by about 50%, compared with non-vegetarian.

Vegetarian Diets Linked to Lower Cancer Risk

A study from the American Institute for Cancer Research suggests that among a population known for having a healthy diet, eating a vegetarian diet may reduce overall cancer risk modestly compared to meat-eaters.

Vegetarians Have Lower Heart Disease Risk

A recent study of 44,561 men and women living in England and Scotland shows that consuming a vegetarian diet is associated with lower ischemic heart disease risk.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Related Resource: EAL Vegetarian Nutrition (VN) Evidence Based Nutrition Practice Guideline

The Future of Food

The Gates Foundation shares some compelling statistics on how we can all benefit from “reinventing”  meat.

Vegetarian Diets Associated with Lower Risk of Death

Vegetarian diets are associated with reduced death rates in a study of more than 70,000 Seventh-day Adventists, with more favorable results for men than women, according to a report published Online First by JAMA Internal Medicine, a JAMA Network publication.
The possible relationship between diet and mortality is an important and emerging area of study. Vegetarian diets have been associated with reductions in risk for several chronic diseases, including hypertension, metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus and ischemic heart disease (IHD), according to the study background.
Michael J. Orlich, MD, of Loma Linda University in California, and colleagues examined all-cause and cause-specific mortality in a group of 73,308 men and women Seventh-day Adventists. Researchers assessed dietary patients using a questionnaire that categorized study participants into five groups: nonvegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian (includes seafood), lacto-ovo-vegetarian (includes dairy and egg products) and vegan (excludes all animal products).
The study notes that vegetarian groups tended to be older, more highly educated and more likely to be married, to drink less alcohol, to smoke less, to exercise more and to be thinner.
 “These results demonstrate an overall association of vegetarian dietary patterns with lower mortality compared with the nonvegetarian dietary pattern. They also demonstrate some associations with lower mortality of the pesco-vegetarian, vegan and lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets specifically compared with the nonvegetarian diet,” the authors conclude.

Special Report

Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets
Perm J 2013 Spring;17(2):61-66

“Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.”

The objective of this article is to present to physicians an update on plant-based diets. Concerns about the rising cost of health care are being voiced nationwide, even as un-healthy lifestyles are contributing to the spread of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. For these reasons, physicians looking for cost-effective interventions to improve health outcomes are becoming more involved in helping their patients adopt healthier lifestyles. Healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet, which we define as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy products, and eggs, as well as all refined and processed foods. We present a case study as an example of the potential health benefits of such a diet. Research shows that plant-based diets are cost-effective, low-risk interventions that may lower body mass index, blood pressure, HbA1C, and cholesterol levels. They may also reduce the number of medications needed to treat chronic diseases and lower ischemic heart disease mortality rates. Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.


For more research on plant-based diets, go to Health Studies.