Expert Statements on Vegetarian Diets


Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes. Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage.

Melina V, Craig W, Levin S. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016 Dec;116(12):1970-1980.

Proceedings of the Nutrition Society

Cross-sectional studies of vegetarians and vegans have shown that on average they have a relatively low BMI (body mass index) and a low plasma cholesterol concentration; recent studies have also shown higher plasma homocysteine concentrations than in non-vegetarians. Cohort studies of vegetarians have shown a moderate reduction in mortality from IHD (ischemic heart disease) but little difference in other major causes of death or all-cause mortality in comparison with health-conscious non-vegetarians from the same population. Studies of cancer have not shown clear differences in cancer rates between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. More data are needed, particularly on the health of vegans and on the possible impacts on health of low intakes of long-chain n-3 fatty acids and vitamin B(12). Overall, the data suggest that the health of Western vegetarians is good and similar to that of comparable non-vegetarians.

Key TJ, Appleby PN, Rosell MS. Health Effects of Vegetarian and Vegan Diets. Proc Nutr Soc. 2006 Feb;65(1):35-41.

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