Disease, Death & Carbon Footprints in Vegetarian Diets

An October 2018 review 1 looked at how things were going with two of the most significant ongoing longitudinal studies into the effects of vegetarian/vegan diets (the Adventist Health Study-2 – AHS-2 and the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Oxford – EPIC-Oxford).

These two large-scale studies analyse food and nutrient intake to consider both the health effects, and the environmental sustainability outcomes of the vegetarian, pescatarian and vegan dietary patterns.

Review findings

Their latest update revealed the following:

  • reduced risk of all cancers compared with non-vegetarians:
    • vegans in AHS-2 study group – 16% lower risk
    • vegans, vegetarians, and fish-eaters in EPIC-Oxford group – 11-19% lower risk
    • pesco-vegetarians in EPIC-Oxford group – significantly lower risk
  • reduced lower mortality risk from all causes and ischaemic heart disease compared with non-vegetarians:
    • vegetarians in both groups – lower mortality risk
  • morbidity risks and prevalence rates for other chronic diseases compared with non-vegetarians:
    • vegetarians in both groups – lower risk
  • reduced greenhouse gas emissions of vegetarian/vegan diets compared with equicaloric non-vegetarian diets:
    • vegetarian diets in AHS-2 study – 29% less
    • vegetarian/vegan diets in EPIC-Oxford study – 47-60% less

Review conclusions

The beneficial health outcomes and reduced carbon footprints make the case for adoption of vegetarian diets to address global food supply and environmental sustainability.

Final thoughts

The benefits of plant-based diets are multi-faceted – your health, the health of farmed animals (obviously!) and – gradually dawning on the general population – the health of the environment on this little blue planet – for both flora and fauna.

Keep eating those greens!


  1. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2018 Oct 2. doi: 10.1038/s41430-018-0310-z. Health and sustainability outcomes of vegetarian dietary patterns: a revisit of the EPIC-Oxford and the Adventist Health Study-2 cohorts. Segovia-Siapco G, Sabaté J. []