Vegetarians Live Longer

The Huffington Post writes today about a study by the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsche Krebsforschungszentrum) which followed 1,904 vegetarians over 21 years.

As vegans, we often hear that our diet could be putting us at risk... we're not getting enough B12, we're not getting enough calcium, and oh yes, what about protein?

Research by a team led by Professor Ibrahim Elmadfa at the University of Vienna found a much better than average intake of Vitamin C, Carotinoides, Folic acid, fiber and unsaturated fats. Where shortcomings may arise is for Vitamin B12, calcium und Vitamin D in a vegan diet. Astoundingly, however, study participants did not suffer from diseases, such as osteoporosis, typically related to inadequate intakes of these micro-nutrients.

Source: The Huffington Post

(Okay, so these researchers don't touch on protein, but we know we can get adequate protein in our diet if we pay enough attention and avoid the "french fry" vegetarian lifestyle. What's that? That is the idea that french fries or other unhealthy food choices are the only options available to us when we go out to eat in omnivore land. Most of the time, you can get a salad or steamed vegetables, at the very least.)

Most impressive of all in the German Cancer Research Center study is this: Vegetarian men had a 50% reduced risk of early death, and vegetarian women a 30% reduced risk.


  1. Greens (such as collards and kale) actually have more calcium than milk. That shocks the heck out of people when I tell them that. Many of them are also a great source of iron and vitamin C.

    I’ve always wanted to know whether B12 could be made within the gut similar as to what is seen in animals? Some researchers I’ve talked to think it’s possible if you have a healthy bowel. Interestingly enough (according to a few stats) the amount of nonvegans deficient with B12 is actually higher than vegetarians/vegans.

    I don’t take the supplements but according to my blood work it has increased since becoming Vegan, imagine that? To be honest, I wasn’t surprised.

    I would be interested to see what type of foods the vegetarians/vegans where eating. Just like the SAD you can have the SVD (standard vegetarian/vegan) diet) which can be just as unhealthy.

  2. Hi Opal,
    Yes, we were shocked to learn that as well, but how much collard greens or kale winds up on your plate? We don’t eat as much of it as we could.
    Interesting about the B12. We’ll have to make sure to ask our physician if our b12 has improved over the last year.

    Hi Alex,
    We thought it was worth sharing.

  3. @Lane,
    I definitely eat a lot a minimum three cups a day.

    Greens find their way into smoothies, salads, stir fries, wraps, and many more dishes. I don’t eat too much besides whole foods.

    Greens are a staple in my household. I definitely can see the results. 🙂

  4. Hi Opal,
    I’m not sure if I misunderstood. We certainly eat our fair share of “greens” per day, if by greens you are including salads. Jane and I have a gigantic salad with dinner every night, and most often a salad with (or as) lunch. We just don’t consume that much kale, and haven’t tried collard greens yet, although we did pick up a bunch last week. There’s a recipe in Vegan Express I’ve asked Jane to make.
    But, smoothies???? I’m not that daring. Perhaps you’d like to share a recipe? I didn’t find one at Vegan Momma.

  5. @Lane,
    No the greens are the actual greens. I don’t post too many recipes on Vegan Momma, but you can find more here under green smoothies it’s another website of mine. It’s one of the websites that I’ll start updating more. Finding the time can be challenging. Yeah adding greens to drinks seemed odd. I learned about it when I became interested in raw foods, but you can make them taste sweet most of the ones I include are sweet drinks. The color can change to green, but the drinks still taste like a sweet drink.

    I began with a few leaves and as my taste changed I began adding more to the drinks, now my smoothies consist mainly of the dark greens.

    If a person is trying it out for the first time, I usually encourage them to use very sweet fruits. On the website, unsweetened apple juice is the base for many of my drinks. It’s easy to pick up in the store, and I don’t want to scare people off with “exotic ingredients” that they might not have access to. I think, at times that can widen the gap since some people will assume that people who live the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle have to be rich. I hear that often especially in the communities I volunteer with.

    Regarding the greens, I make sure I have them daily although my intake is already high I found that simple gesture gave me even more energy, I and I also need less sleep. I sleep about four hours daily. It used to be around six. I never required a lot sleep. The biggest bonus for me was no more menstruation cramps, along with lighter cycles.

    I know it isn’t just that it’s a combination of things that I’m doing. I also juice. I might drink fresh raw juices a few times each week. If I’m on a cleaning routine I’ll do it daily.

  6. Hi Opal,
    Thanks for the excellent info. When I work up the courage… I blog about trying the green smoothie.
    Interesting point about the exotic ingredients scaring people off. We had that experience with some of the ingredients in the first vegan cookbook we tried. I think some of these things add a certain nuance to the food, but really, the cost or the hassle of getting them is often not worth it.

  7. I love the fact that the Japanese who eat a traditional diet live longer than just about anyone. Their secret is exercise into old age, small meals, stopping before full, a little of everything and lots of tea. They are also the cleanest people in the world bathing more than any other group on average. They always remove their shoes before entering their home which lowers bacteria, pesitcide and pollution levels in their homes and the air they breath. My husbands family is Japanese and they are all anciet and lively except for him of course. He is young and lively.

  8. Hi Autumn,
    Thanks for sharing. Interestingly, Jane has always had a “shoeless household.” At first I thought it was a nuisance, but I’ve come to appreciate the habit.
    Here’s hoping your husband inherited his family genes and habits!

  9. i am vegan but i find it interesting and somewhat misleading that you glossed over one of the key findings of the study:

    that vegans don’t live as long as vegetarians who include dairy, eggs, and limited animal products in their diet.

    i hate it when mainstream science skews the way they report study results to malign vegetarians and vegan – likewise, i don’t like when a vegan site that is supposed to be dedicated to truthful info, uses the same tactics to gloss over the fact that our vegetarian brothers and sisters live longer than us vegans.

    when i went to the vegetarian conference last summer in johnstown, pa, i was really turned off by all “my diet is better than your diet” divisions among vegetarians vs. vegan, raw vs. cooked, macrobiotic vs. non-macrobiotic, pescatarians, etc.

    the bottom line is all of these diets are better than the SAD (Standard American Diet) and that’s the message we need to be promoting.

    so next time, please report all the study results and don’t cherry pick info that suits our vegan viewport – i am an adult and can process the info appropriately but first, i have to be given the info.


  10. Animals do NOT produce B12 in their gut… they obtain it from bacteria on the plants they eat. We would get it from the plants in our diet if they were not so heavily washed and disinfected. Bacteria produce B12, not animals.

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