Vegetarian Statistics, Studies and Research

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This page details some selected vegetarian statistics - scroll down to see them.

Some large scale studies have been carried out to ascertain if vegetarians indeed do live longer, or enjoy better health.

While some studies imply that there is no difference between vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets, many do clearly point to better health outcomes for vegetarian diets. One thing which has been very clear is that low-meat and high-plant food diets do result in better statistics all-round.

I am not always a fan of so-called scientific studies. I feel that there are almost always too many factors which cannot be effectively controlled, thus hampering the reliability and usefulness of any results and conclusions obtained. Often, there is also biasness, mostly in the form of vested interests.

Personally, I prefer to reply on two main things - common sense, and how one feels i.e. personal experience. I know that I feel much healthier, and in no way deficient, when I am on a well-balanced vegetarian diet. I have more energy, suffer less indigestion, fall ill less often, and overall my body does not feel so burdened.

It is very different with meat-eating. After a heavy meal with lots of meat, I often feel 'heavy' and lethargic and just feel like tucking into bed. These experiences are very real, and I do not really need any scientific studies or vegetarian statistics to validate them.

In the case of trying to obtain reliable vegetarian statistics, a couple of factors make such studies even more difficult to conduct. Firstly, there is a wide range in the definition of vegetarianism. Further, being vegetarian might coincide with other lifestyle choices, such as smoking, exercise, stress level, etc, which would also have a direct impact on health levels and life expectancy.

Vegetarian statistics and studies - on the health benefits of vegetarian diets

"These findings confirm other evidence of a lower mortality from heart disease among vegetarians." - ML Burr and PM Sweetnam, 1982 "Vegetarianism, dietary fiber, and mortality" American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 36, 873-877, 1982

"These data support the hypothesis that intake of red meat is related to an elevated risk of colon cancer." - Giovannucci, Edward, et al, 1994 "Intake of Fat, Meat, and Fiber in Relation to Risk of Colon Cancer in Men" American Association for Cancer Research, Cancer Research 54, 2390-2397, May 1, 1994

"In conclusion, vegetarians had a 24% lower mortality from ischemic heart disease than non-vegetarians, but no associations of a vegetarian diet with other major causes of death were established." - Key, Timothy J, et al., 1999 "Mortality in vegetarians and nonvegetarians: detailed findings from a collaborative analysis of 5 prospective studies" American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 70, No. 3, 516S-524S, September 1999. This study analyzed the combined results from 5 previous studies, covering a total of more than 76,000 people.

In a study of 50,000 male health professionals conducted by the Harvard Medical School, men who eat red meat as a main dish at least five times a week have 400% the risk of getting colon cancer, compared to men who eat red meat less than once a month; they also have 200% the risk of getting prostate cancer.

A 20-year study of 832 middle-aged men was conducted, and it found that the men's risk of stroke was 22% lower for every 3 servings of fruits and vegetables consumed each day.

A study carried out by the University of Connecticut School of Medicine revealed that the bodies of women who suffered from breast cancer had more than double the concentrations of PCBs as compared to the bodies of other women. It warned against the consumption of animal food products such as dairy products, fish and animal fats.

Vegetarian statistics and studies - demographics of vegetarians

A study conducted at Southampton University in the UK found that the majority of vegetarians were female. Vegetarians were also more likely to be of higher occupational social class, as well as have better academic or vocational qualifications.

In 1992, a study was commissioned by the Vegetarian Times and conducted by the Yankelovich research organisation. It said that "of the 12.4 million people who call themselves vegetarian, 68 percent are female while only 32 percent are male". For both genders, the main reason for being a vegetarian was health, with nearly 50% of all vegetarians stating it as their primary incentive.


A study conducted at Southampton University in the UK revealed some very interesting vegetarian statistics. It found that intelligent children were more likely to become vegetarians later in life. IQ scores of strict vegetarians and those who reported to be vegetarians but who in fact also ate fish or chicken (i.e. flexitarians, semi-vegetarians or pesco-vegetarians / pescetarians ) were similar.

The study of 8,179 people, which began in 1970, said that "higher IQ at age 10 years was associated with an increased likelihood of being vegetarian at age 30 [...] IQ remained a statistically significant predictor of being vegetarian as an adult after adjustment for social class (both in childhood and currently), academic or vocational qualifications, and sex".

As reported in the BBC, Liz O'Neill of the Vegetarian Society said, "We've always known that vegetarianism is an intelligent, compassionate choice benefiting animals, people and the environment.

"Now we've got the scientific evidence to prove it. Maybe that explains why many meat-reducers are keen to call themselves vegetarians when even they must know that vegetarians don't eat chicken, turkey or fish."

Vegetarian statistics and studies - possible effects of vegetarian diets

A study conducted at Nottingham University in the UK, which looked at about 6,000 pregnant women in 1998, found that vegetarian women were more likely than meat-eaters to give birth to baby girls. While the average ratio of boys to girls born in Britain was 106 to 100, the ratio was 85 to 100 for vegetarian mothers. According to researcher Pauline Hudson, the results were statistically significant, although they were dismissed by the British Dietetic Association as a "statistical fluke".

The cause of such a difference is unclear, although one possibility is the presence of phytoestrogens among the phytochemicals (plant chemicals) in plants, which behave in the same way as the female hormone estrogen.

Vegetarian statistics and studies - effects of meat consumption on the environment

There are some staggering vegetarian statistics in this area.

38% of the total grain produced worldwide is used to feed chicken, pigs, and cattle which are raised for human food. In the United States, 70% of the grain produced is fed to livestock. (Gussow, 1994)

1 pound of pork takes 14,000 calories to produce in the United States, while it provides between 1,000 and 2,000 calories of energy to its consumer. (Gussow, 1994)

Since 1970, 20 million hectares of tropical forest in Latin America have been converted to cattle pasture. Such deforestation has had a significant adverse effect on the animal and plant diversity on the continent. (Gussow, 1994)

The US is losing about 4 million acres of cropland each because of soil erosion, and the amount that is directly attributed to raising livestock is estimated to be about 85% of this figure. (The Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook, 1995)

Over 4,000 gallons of water is used to produce one day's worth of food for the average meat-eater. For ovo-lacto-vegetarians, this figure is 1,200 gallons, while the figure is only 300 gallons for vegans. (The Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook, 1995)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) stated that, on average, the American vegetarian consumes 150% of his protein needs, while meat-eaters consume twice as much as what they need.

Vegetarian statistics and studies - estimated healthcare costs of meat consumption

Dr William Harris, MD, director of the Kaiser Permanente Vegetarian Lifestyle Clinic in Hawaii, stated the following in an oral testimony in Feb 1998 opposing a bill in Hawaii which proposed to float $10million in bonds to support the meat industry: "The cholesterol and saturated fat in meat is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and six types of cancer. Animal protein is a risk factor for auto-immune disease, kidney disease, and osteoporosis. By estimate in my book 'The Scientific Basis of Vegetarianism', about 1/6 of the almost trillion-dollar yearly U.S. medical bill can be traced to the consumption of animal source food."

The peer-reviewed article, "The medical costs attributable to meat consumption," Prev Med 1995;24(6):646-55, placed medical costs due to meat consumption in the US for 1992 between $28.6 and $61.4 billion.

We hope you enjoyed the vegetarian statistics presented above. Which is your favorite vegetarian statistic?

Read More: More on Vegetarianism | Understanding Nutrition and its Importance | Nutrition Health Articles - Foods, Diets, Supplements, Nutrients and more | Information on some Herbs | Favorite Herbs, Herbals Formulas and Foods | Natural Health Supplements - What to Consider | Home Page | Site Search

Being a vegetarian does not have to be difficult. In fact, it should be simple, healthful and fun. Meals can be delicious, too. Click here for a step-by-step guide to a vegetarian lifestyle, which will help you to make a simple transition to a healthier diet.

Also, if you wish to learn how to lose weight quickly and healthily with simple, cheap and easy vegetarian meal plans, click here.

And if you love Chinese food or wish to learn healthy, delicious, natural, gluten-free Chinese vegetarian recipes which you can easily prepare at home, click here.

Vegetarian-related Pages

Introduction | What is a Vegetarian? | What Do Vegetarians Eat? | Different Types of Vegetarians | Pros & Cons | Why People Become Vegetarians - the reasons | Advantages of Vegetarian Diet Choices | Health Benefits of Vegetarian Diet Consumption | Vegetarian Diet Disadvantage - a discussion | Becoming a Vegetarian - does it suit humans better? | Being Vegetarian | Going Vegetarian Really isn't That Difficult | Challenges of Being a Vegetarian | How to Become a Vegetarian | Tips to Become Vegetarian | Nutrition Issues | Thoughts on Vegetarian Nutrition - is it adequate and complete? | Vegetarian Diet Health Concerns - are there nutritional deficiencies? | Vegetarian Protein - is there enough, and is it complete? | High Protein Vegetarian Diet - some thoughts | Planning a Diet | What's a Healthy Vegetarian Diet? | Achieving a Balanced Vegetarian Diet | Formulating a Vegetarian Diet Plan | Vegetarian Food Pyramid - details & discussion | Vegetarian Daily Diet - some ideas | A Right Diet for Vegetarians - are you on one? | More Information | Vegetarian Statistics and Studies | Vegetarian Quotes - for fun, information & inspiration | Vegetarian Websites, Books, Videos & Resources | List of some Famous Vegetarians

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