Do Flexitarians Live Longer?

Do Flexitarians Live Longer?
4.67 (93.49%) 86 votes

Does just reducing one’s intake of meat, dairy, and eggs significantly reduce mortality?


What accounts for the benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet? An anatomy of health effects was published and the single most important component was the high consumption of plant foods. In contrast, fish and seafood consumption, the only animal foods promoted in the Mediterranean diet, did not seem to help.

In fact, if you look at the four major dietary quality scoring systems, which have all been associated with extending lifespan and lowering heart disease and cancer mortality, they all share only four things in common: more fruit, more vegetables, more whole grains, and more nuts and beans. They are all built on a common core of a diet rich in plant foods, whereas opposite food patterns, rich in animal foods and poor in plant-based foods (in other words, the Western diet), are associated with higher risks. So we need to optimize the food environment to support whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and plant-based proteins.

That’s one of the things all the so-called Blue Zones have in common; the longest living populations not only have social support and engagement, and daily exercise, but nutritionally they all center their diets around plant foods, reserving meat mostly for special occasions. And the population with perhaps the highest life expectancy in the world doesn’t eat any meat at all–the California Adventist vegetarians.

So if the primary benefits of the Mediterranean diet are due to all the whole plant foods, what if you went back to the famous PREDIMED study and created a pro-vegetarian scoring system? We know vegetarians live longer, but because a pure vegetarian diet might not easily be embraced by many individuals, maybe it would be easier to swallow if we just tell people more plant-based foods, less animal-based foods. But would just moving along the spectrum towards more plants actually enable people to live longer? They thought of this food pattern as a “gentle approach” to vegetarianism, figuring that if it improved survival it would be an easily understandable message for health promotion: more plant foods, less animal foods.

So you get points for eating fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, beans, olive oil, and potatoes, but get docked points for any animal fats, eggs, fish, dairy, or any type of meat or meat products. Of course that means you get a higher score the more potato chips and French fries you eat. That’s why I prefer the term “whole food plant-based” diet since it’s defined by what you eat, not by what you don’t eat. When I taught at Cornell, I had “vegan” students who apparently were trying to live off French fries and beer; vegan does not necessarily mean health-promoting. But did it work? Regardless of healthy vs. unhealthy, if you give points to people for any kind of plant food, processed or not, and detract points for any kind of animal product consumption, do people with higher scores live longer? Yes. The maximum pro-vegetarian score is 60, but even just scoring 40 or more was associated with a 40% drop in mortality. In fact, there were so few deaths in the highest category of adherence to the pro-vegetarian diet, they had to merge the two upper categories for their analysis. This is evidence that simple advice to increase the consumption of plant-derived foods with reductions in the consumption of foods from animal sources confers a survival advantage, a live-a-longer-life advantage.

This modest change is realistic, affordable, and achievable because a sizable proportion of their population was already eating that way. So one can get a significant survival benefit without a radical shift to the exclusive consumption of plant foods–a more gradual and gentle approach more easily translatable into public policy. For example, a 41% drop in mortality rates in the United States would mean saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans every year.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

What accounts for the benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet? An anatomy of health effects was published and the single most important component was the high consumption of plant foods. In contrast, fish and seafood consumption, the only animal foods promoted in the Mediterranean diet, did not seem to help.

In fact, if you look at the four major dietary quality scoring systems, which have all been associated with extending lifespan and lowering heart disease and cancer mortality, they all share only four things in common: more fruit, more vegetables, more whole grains, and more nuts and beans. They are all built on a common core of a diet rich in plant foods, whereas opposite food patterns, rich in animal foods and poor in plant-based foods (in other words, the Western diet), are associated with higher risks. So we need to optimize the food environment to support whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and plant-based proteins.

That’s one of the things all the so-called Blue Zones have in common; the longest living populations not only have social support and engagement, and daily exercise, but nutritionally they all center their diets around plant foods, reserving meat mostly for special occasions. And the population with perhaps the highest life expectancy in the world doesn’t eat any meat at all–the California Adventist vegetarians.

So if the primary benefits of the Mediterranean diet are due to all the whole plant foods, what if you went back to the famous PREDIMED study and created a pro-vegetarian scoring system? We know vegetarians live longer, but because a pure vegetarian diet might not easily be embraced by many individuals, maybe it would be easier to swallow if we just tell people more plant-based foods, less animal-based foods. But would just moving along the spectrum towards more plants actually enable people to live longer? They thought of this food pattern as a “gentle approach” to vegetarianism, figuring that if it improved survival it would be an easily understandable message for health promotion: more plant foods, less animal foods.

So you get points for eating fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, beans, olive oil, and potatoes, but get docked points for any animal fats, eggs, fish, dairy, or any type of meat or meat products. Of course that means you get a higher score the more potato chips and French fries you eat. That’s why I prefer the term “whole food plant-based” diet since it’s defined by what you eat, not by what you don’t eat. When I taught at Cornell, I had “vegan” students who apparently were trying to live off French fries and beer; vegan does not necessarily mean health-promoting. But did it work? Regardless of healthy vs. unhealthy, if you give points to people for any kind of plant food, processed or not, and detract points for any kind of animal product consumption, do people with higher scores live longer? Yes. The maximum pro-vegetarian score is 60, but even just scoring 40 or more was associated with a 40% drop in mortality. In fact, there were so few deaths in the highest category of adherence to the pro-vegetarian diet, they had to merge the two upper categories for their analysis. This is evidence that simple advice to increase the consumption of plant-derived foods with reductions in the consumption of foods from animal sources confers a survival advantage, a live-a-longer-life advantage.

This modest change is realistic, affordable, and achievable because a sizable proportion of their population was already eating that way. So one can get a significant survival benefit without a radical shift to the exclusive consumption of plant foods–a more gradual and gentle approach more easily translatable into public policy. For example, a 41% drop in mortality rates in the United States would mean saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans every year.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Brian Kateman.

Doctor's Note

This is the fifth of a six-part video series on the Mediterranean diet. Here are the first four in case you missed them:

  1. Why Was Heart Disease Rare in the Mediterranean?
  2. The Mediterranean Diet or a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet?
  3. PREDIMED: Does Eating Nuts Prevent Strokes?
  4. Which Parts of the Mediterranean Diet Extended Life?

Last but not least I’ll cover Improving on the Mediterranean Diet next.

I’ve done a few videos on the health of so-called semi-vegetarians or flexitarians (“flexible” vegetarians). See how they rate in:

But Is Vegan Food Always Healthy? Watch the video to find out. 

The Provegetarian Score reminds me of the animal to vegetable protein ratio in Prostate Cancer Survival: The A/V Ratio. My favorite dietary quality index is the one in Calculate Your Healthy Eating Score. How do you rate? Even the healthiest among us may be able to continue to push the envelope.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

201 responses to “Do Flexitarians Live Longer?

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    1. I agree, but myself i prefer the nothing when it comes to animal food. I have tried both ways and feel the best and perform the best on a strictly whole foods plant based diet.

      1. Me too, Alan. An interesting and unexpected side effect is that I’ve become attuned to how food makes me feel and whole plant foods support me feeling my best physically and mentally.

  1. I just switch ed from the so called paleo diet to a plant based whole foods with no animal products or processed junk. I just completed week two with sucess! Feeling more energy, no hunger, even my clothes are fitting looser. Only one side effect I am a little conerned about, some lower abdominal discomfort, frrquent gas, and somewhat mild belly ache. Is this just my getting used to thr much higher fiber intake? Will it improve if I stick with it? Thanks for the great info!

    1. Yes I found it takes about 3 weeks for the bowels to completely adjust and then you’ll feel great digestion-wise too.

    2. It’s probably largely a matter of your intestinal microorganisms adjusting to your new diet. In the mean time there are things such as Bean-zyme (a vegan version of Beano) that can be helpful. Good of you, Michael – and for you!

    3. Congratulations… one of the advantages to taking a giant step to a whole food plant based diet is the positive effects are more noticeable than if you use baby steps. This is apparent in seeing the results of my patients who gradually change vs those in an immersion program like Dr. John McDougall’s Whole Foods program or his 10 day program. Your intestine will adjust over time and you might find that some plants work better than others. Over the next several months you will want to make sure that you have adequate Vitamin B12 intake see Dr. Greger’s video series beginning in February 2012… Now you can lead by example… for those around you who question you about the health of your approach ask them to subscribe to

      1. Thanks Don, I LOVE the advice about sending them here, and I have and do, if only they would follow up! It takes active interest to even click a link, and even the few who did found all the info overwhelming, and would have no idea where to “start”, being new to it all. (A few other people mentioned this recently here also.)
        What I am searching for is… a positive, upbeat, video for the mostly clueless and confused, describing (celebrating) the the merits of a WFPB diet, (relatively short 5-ish minutes) sort of general pep-talk for the average SAD consumer who needs a convincing nudge. (SHOVE!) Ideally it would emphasize not veganism per se, (even though I don’t eat animal products myself, it seems to scare people away) but principles we could count on one hand…the 5 biggies that I find everyone has confusion about…
        1) the myriad of benefits of adding many more WHOLE plant based foods, emphasis on whole, and a quick rundown of what a “plant food” is, like… veggies, fruits, legumes, grains, roots, seeds, etc.! (I’m amazed how many people think it just means fruits and veggies!)
        2) the myriad of benefits of reducing ALL animal products, including dairy and some explanation why…
        3) emphasis on eliminating processed garbage in favor of REAL food! (However it gets said) with added additional mentions of avoiding at least sugar, refined flour, & added oil/fat…especially for cooking, (and maybe the last 2 should be 3 A & B instead of 4 & 5, but…)
        4) Making clear the difference between the “dreaded carbs” and complex carbs, and emphasizing the importance of the good ones!
        5) Dispelling the fear of fruit sugar in contrast to processed sugar..and why. (Lots of diabetics) and then maybe further links for more specific info on any of the above, or more.
        Of course I know the issues aren’t this cut and dry nor as basic, but seem to be the questions I had, and the ones most people need to comprehend without being too overwhelmed about what changes they most need to make. I would love it to go on about a slew of other important issues to me, (fiber, fermentation/gut health, not fearing traditional soy products, lifestyle, etc,) but that gets too complicated, confusing and controversial for this particular agenda.
        If anyone knows of a good link (an upbeat video preferably…easier to watch than read, heaven forbid!) that can at least come close to the above, I would LOVE if you could post it for me! (I’m sure it is probably even right here on this site, but I can’t tease it out of the fray!) Maybe it could even be a future project as an introductory synopsis for this site’s guiding principles??? HINT HINT!!! LOL!

        1. Hi vege-tater – I agree with every one of your points and in helping my clients, I do try to address these issues, but will take on board what you say and try my hand at producing a video. I* am Sustaining Lifestyles :-)

    4. I made similar switch (with back to back readings of Loren Cordain and T Colin Campbell) about 5 years ago, and for about 3 weeks my movements were ahem, urgent. Persist, and the microbiota adapts.

        1. I don’t think that’s normal, but have you made any changes such as taking vitamins – magnesium and vitamin C will often increase frequency of BMs until you reach bowel tolerance. Did you recently go on a vacation, especially to a tropical locale? Sometimes we can pick up a bug or two and it can take time for the gut microbes to return to normal. Have you begun eating a new food – there may be an issue with sensitivity/allergy? If it’s a “no” to these questions, then I’d recommend you see your family doctor. In the meantime, try taking probiotics to see if that helps to settle things. I recommend the human microflora product HMF Forte by Genestra (no affiliation).

        2. Going on a plant based diet does result in changes in stooling both frequency, form and transit time. There are 19 video’s relating to “Bowel Movements” on this website with associated links to the cited studies. For frequency see… ; form and the Bristol Stool Scale… and transit time see… There is individual variation and there can be plant foods that tend to cause increased or reduced frequency. It is a bit complicated and difficult to sort out at times as discussed in the video discussing stool pH… and antioxidants see… If things have been stable for awhile and you note a persistent change in stool habits it is also good to check with your health care professional(s). Unfortunately many times we can’t tell our patients what is going on but can rule in or out diagnoses that we worry about. In my clinical experience and consistent with what others in the field report… most vegans are going to have 1-3 per day. Keep tuned to for the latest in science.

    5. Glad you are experiencing more energy, Michael! Sometimes more fiber can take some getting used to. The body does adapt with time, general. Some research suggests black-eyed peas may be more ‘gut friendly’ than black beans or pinto beans. However, even in this study researchers concluded “People’s concerns about excessive flatulence from eating beans may be exaggerated” as many folks eating all beans didn’t have the discomfort expected by eating more beans. At any rate, gastrointestinal discomfort is real and it includes more foods than beans, but there are many tips to help.

      Soaking beans before cooking, eating more cooked and less fresh vegetables (especially cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower) can help reduce the discomfort. Everyone varies a bit, find what foods work for you. Let us know if it doesn’t subside.

      1. Thanks for the reply! I will try those tips, I would love to eat beans, they used to be my favorite. hopefully my body will soon be able to handle them, not quite yet though…

        1. Maybe well-cooked lentils? Also, creamy peanut butter and tofu have less fiber so that may be nice. Do what works! Like the miso idea. Hope you feel better

    6. Your energy balance is off if after 2 weeks your clothes are already getting loser.
      If you pre-cook half a kilogram of brown rice or something similar and just leave it on your stove you can walk by and grab a quick snack from it. Overeating vegetables will never give you the energy you need, it’s a well known beginners mistake. GL ;)

        1. It is called crash dieting and that never works, that he might feel full doesn’t change the underlying the energy crisis.
          He’ll just end up ravenous and start binging on energy dense foods.

          1. thanks for your reply. I cant in my wildest imagination figure out why you think i am doing a crash diet? I am eating the same amount of veggies now as when I was on paleo diet, the only change I made was trade my meat, fat, eggs and dairy, for starches like you mentioned at the end, and whole grain bread. i agree with you that they are great sources of energy. Beans are out for a little while longer, but i do believe i will get used to them again. they used to be my favorite, and never caused problems, but they were banned in the paleo diet, so now i got to get used to them again.

            1. There is twice as much energy per gram in fat as there is in the other two macro’s.
              If you were stable weight before but you switch an equal weight of fat for carbs you’ll end up with a deficit.
              If that belt gets too loose don’t be afraid to really shuffle in those starches. GL.

              1. I could stand to lose 30 pounds really, but my clothes fitting better is mainly due to less inflammation and swelling . if i ever start getting too skinny, then i will add some fat back in…

    7. Michael,
      Can you further explain your lower abdominal discomfort? I went totally plant based in January (it wasn’t a huge transition for me) and have been experiencing lower abdominal/pelvic pain for that last two months. Neither doctors nor I have been able to figure it out. I have had an ultrasound of my kidneys and bladder and a CT of my kidneys. All negative. Any ideas would be great and much appreciated!

      1. I was 80% plant based (high carb raw) for November and December and 100% plant based since January. When I first switched I had more digestive issues than in the last 3-4 weeks. I’ve only had anything I would call digestive pain recently when I ate some fried potatoes which had a lot of oil. My diet runs a max of about 12% fats for the past 4 months so the one night of much higher and oil, my digestion was quite odd. I’m sure part of the changes is related to the tremendous amount of fiber when compared to my previous SAD lifestyle.

      2. Alex, sort of like having gas, but it doesnt go away after passing it, not enough pain to take anything, or go see a Dr., as long as i don’t eat beans lol I also got food poisoning a few weeks ago from undercooked chicken, that could have done some damage that needed healing. no fun, but maybe a good thing in the long run, possibly what opened mind to kicking the meat habit…

        1. Thanks for sharing everyone! This community is awesome. I still haven’t solved my problem yet but these are great ideas to explore!

      3. I tracked some of my abdominal issues to oatmeal of all things, but I adore it and refuse to give it up. Sometimes it gave me big tummy trouble… bloating, gas, generalized discomfort…you get the unpleasant picture. I always use it savory instead of sweet, (similar to rice) mixed with all kinds of cooked veggies of whatever I have on hand, which works better than eating it alone. I recently discovered a neat “recipe” that helped the problem a lot, (and will probably work for a lot of foods to predigest them)!
        I cook a big bowl of oatmeal, (one cup of oats, almost 2 of water) no salt added, and once it cools down enough to touch, I dissolve a TBS or so of shiro miso (I get mine from an oriental market, but make sure it isn’t pasteurized, it has to have live cultures) in a bit of water, and mix it well into the oats. I also added some chopped nuts and flax (or try hemp or other seeds like pumpkin or sunflower too), and then leave the bowl sitting on the counter, covered with a plate or something, overnight. The miso has live cultures (probiotics) and enzymes, which change the oatmeal into something I think is even more wonderful! Within minutes you can see changes taking place, and overnight it develops a mild sweetness and a rich, almost yeasty flavor that is quite unique, and totally different than the two ingredients! Magic! It may look bubbly almost like a watery rising dough, but fear not! LOL! You can take some out and warm it lighty before you eat it, just don’t get it too warm and kill the good organisms…they are live and ready to colonize your gut! The bowl will last me all day, and refrigerated, into the next.
        I’ve done a lot of lacto-fermenting but the miso was something new, and so glad I tried it. Plant based nut, seed and veggie “cheezes” can be created using a similar technique, my next adventure! Totally different tastes than lacto-fermenting, which, like sauerkraut, is another whole palette of flavors, boost in nutrition and immunity! Every culture down through history had a slew of ferments I had never even heard of, and they are amazing! Who said WFPB eating is boring? I love experimenting in my kitchen “laboratory”! LOL!

          1. Yes, it is white miso, I looked it up. I probably should have just said that huh? Sorry for being so verbose, a bad habit. I have a little too much enthusiasm! LOL!

    8. Hi Michael, for me personally too many fruits (raw in particular) can cause mild bloating. Also personally I have come to accept that sweet potatoes cause an oddly severe bloating and discomfort and now avoid them. I’ve also noticed that with pulses, some like chickpeas and lentils cause no digestive sensations at all, while others like kidney beans are a bit more “musical” shall we say. As others have said, your microbiome will adjust with time and the discomfort will undoubtedly get better. Beyond that, stay attuned to any particular reactions you notice with certain foods. Also if you happen to be eating a really large amount of fruits and veggies, generally skewing your diet towards more starches like potatoes and rice with fewer vegetables could be something to try.

      1. yeah i have been loading up on the healthy starches! I just cannot get well fed just eating fruit and veggies, and they have been giving me good energy!!! when i was relying on meat and fat for most of my calories, I needed a huge thermos full of coffee to get through the day, now i only have a cup in the morning! thanks for the reply!

        1. Sorry to read about your transition issues.. it can take several months to adjust to a plant based diet. It is also possible that you are sensitive to particular plant foods. You might benefit from reading John McDougall’s newsletter article entitled, Diet for the Desperate (Dec 2002). The articled gives a nice discussion of which foods might cause a problem and recommends an approach. If you symptoms persist it is always best to consult with a health care professional.

    9. You may have a bowel intolerance to one of more of the foods you’re eating. Before the higher saturated fat may have smeared all over your bowel offering a little bit protection. Then again you may just need to “adjust” either way I would keep it in mind until you’re sure.

    10. I have the same question, and would love some input. I adhere to a modified FODMAP diet (modified in the sense that what I personally need to avoid are the Galactans [beans, lentils}, and some fructans [garlic, onions, broccoli, cabbage]….and frankly a whole list of other foods. Since starting on a plant based diet, which has upped my fibre intake and introduced a whole bunch of foods in proportions my body isn’t really used to, I’ve been very gassy/bloated. My body is really not used to 70+grams of fibre a day, in the form of oatmeal, brown rice, lots of leafy and other vegetables veg, fruits, flax, etc. As I am an athlete trying to actively gain mass and muscle, I also switched to a plant based protein powder–Pea and Brown Rice. I feel otherwise very good and my energy is fine, but the digestive issues are… issue. It would honestly be the #1 thing that would make me go back. Suggestions welcome. I just ordered some Beano online to see if that can help.

      Does Dr Greger have suggestions for those of us who need to follow a FODMAP diet, since beans and lentils and many other foods are so high on his list of core foods to eat?

      1. Daniel: I recently saw a talk from Dr. Klaper that covered reasons why some people are not able to make the transition to a whole plant food diet. Dr. Klaper says that some people make the transition too fast, before their bodies can handle all those healthier foods. So, making the transition more slowly, or just giving your body enough time to adjust, would be in order. He also recommended thoroughly chewing food in order to get the air out of it. I think this is a gross idea, but he talks about, for example, making “salad cream” in your mouth before swallowing. Just some ideas for you. I hope you make it!
        Oh, one more thought, there are some websites devoted to vegan athletes. You might look around or ask around on those sites for ideas specific to your situation.

        1. Thanks for the input! I certainly have gone all-in on the plant based diet, and it may have been too quickly. I had been off beef, pork and lamb for a year, but still eating lots of chicken and eggs, and nowhere near this amount of fibre. I’m going to do fewer whole grains for a time, flax oil instead of ground flax, etc.

    11. Yes. It can take a while for the gut microbiome to adjust and settle. Learn to chew more to get the important digestive enzymes well mixed with the food, and experiment with portion sizes for specific foods.

    1. I was just looking at some of the ratio’s.
      Canola oil at 2.2:1
      And pumpkin seeds a whopping 107.8:1………ouch
      I was wondering what peanuts were.

      1. Gary, since peanuts have zero omega 3’s, an ounce of peanuts has an omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of approximately 4.5:0. However, sometimes we don’t have to rely on one nut, and can mix and match to get a healthy ratio.

        1. Thanks for responding Julie & Joseph. I just wanted to be sure the peanuts didn’t have the same outrageous ratio as the pumpkin seeds.
          I don’t want to have to swallow an extra Algae omega 3 or Tsp of flax seed to level that ratio out..:)

      2. Peanuts are more omega-6 geared. I am not sure the specific ratio (can someone find out?), but not as good omega-3 sources. Still a perfectly healthful food! I really hate getting caught up on numbers. I know they can be helpful to see, but when we start referring to whole foods are value signs and percentages I feel it makes eating a healthful diet harder than it should be. Sometimes I am wrong in this approach. In the past, a study participant was adamant about counting calories, even when I told them they didn’t have to. Well, they enjoyed counting and it made them feel more accountable. How can I say that is a “bad” thing? Having said that, it is just my experience that less counting and less number crunching is preferred but of course we have to have the information fist. Good talk :) Thanks for the info, Gary and BIll.

        1. A fair number of people who gravitate towards sites such as NF have orthorexic tendencies, described as “an unhealthy fixation with what the individual considers to be healthy eating.” Eating should be seen as a simple, pleasurable, relaxing experience, not navigating through a minefield.

          1. I agree with your perspective about orthorexic tendencies, Psych MD. I’ve long been a nutrition wonk but I cut myself slack on my eating. I just had chips (albeit healthier variety with flax, etc.) and beer and guacamole and grapefruit juice for dinner. Go figure. I should have had a big salad but am too sleepy to make one.

          2. Been to a grocery store lately? It’s a minefield. More that half the store is cookies, chips, sodas, packaged foods high in fat, salt sugar etc. I’ll agree with the simple part of eating if by that you mean eating simple rather than processed foods. But I’m sure it would be much more pleasurable if I ate the boxes of cookies and snacks that I so diligently avoid. I do indeed have a fixation with healthy eating and as a result, I’ve lost 20 pounds, have fewer aches, better bowel habits and am more optimistic. I’d call this a healthy fixation. Of course to the psychiatrist who looks for a crazy person under every bush, I’m sure he’d be of a contrary opinion, perhaps to justify his own unhealthy eating habits.

            1. Part of my job is being able to disinguish healthy behavior from pathological. I’d say my adherence to Dr. Greger’s advice is about 98% I find this style of eating liberating and relaxing. The thought of gorging on “boxes of cookies and snacks” is nauseating. When people start stressing about how many nuts it is “safe” to eat and obsessing about whose ratio is more accurate they are overthinking.

              1. “When people start stressing about how many nuts it is “safe” to eat and obsessing about whose ratio is more accurate they are overthinking.”
                How right you are!!

              2. Since projecting self loathing and sociopathy traits aren’t things that usually turn around in a month or so,
                that pretty much leaves the detoxing scenario. It’s working wonders, good for you.

        2. I had to enter 10,000 calories worth of peanuts into CRON-O-Meter before it even registered at .1 grams of omega 3. This was compared to 241g of omega 6. As you said of course a healthy food if consumed in the proper amount, but one will have to get their omega 3’s elsewhere.

      3. “While no one knows what the optimal ratio in the diet is for these two families of fats, the current (and recommended) ratio in Japan is associated with a very low incidence of heart and other diseases. A dietary ratio of 4:1 produces almost a 1:1 ratio of HUFAs in cell membranes.”[4]

        Present-day diets in the developed world have departed dramatically from this ratio. One estimate is that in developed countries, the ratio of Omega-6s to Omega-3s is closer to 15:1[5] Another estimate is that “[t]he diet consumed by the typical American tends to contain 14 – 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids.

        I was checking the ratio’s here,

        Veggies had only a trace and would not effect the ratio much.

  2. I am 17 years old and have recently switch to a vegan diet, supplementing with Vitamin B12. I do still have very bad acne, digestive issues and chronic diarrhea (despite taking probiotics for almost 1 month now). In any case, I am wondering how much Omega 6s must be in the daily diet? I understand you want to get enough Omega 3s (from flax), but what about Omega 6s? Is it bad to not get any? I was having trouble finding any RDA.

    1. I eat beans twice a day and it took a yr to a yr and a half for the gas went away to nothing. Still the gas was not disgusting like rotting flesh in the gut.

      I started out with blending raw veggies (kale etc) with 2 cups of water added to make it drinkable. I soon gave up on that. It made me way too bloated and full feeling. But it does work good if your goal is to lose weight.
      My weight is a trim 154 at 6 ft tall, so I just maintain at this weight. At 160 lb my 6 pac abs start to disappear as belly fat returns…

      Bowl movements are now easy and daily once or even twice if I eat more.

    2. You don’t need much in the way of omega-6’s. Both flax and grains have enough. I wouldn’t worry about being deficient in them. As far as diarrhea goes, mine didn’t clear up completely for about a year after going vegan, so give it some time. The healthier you eat, the better it will get. Avoid packaged foods and eat foods in a state as close as possible to how they were when they came out of the ground. I recently saw this video on teen acne- hope it helps. Good luck.

    3. Hi, JakeN,

      Thanks for your questions. Sorry to hear about the discomfort, please go see someone if it doesn’t subside. Probiotics may help, but they haven’t found to offset diarrhea from my knowledge. You may try more soluble fiber (oats, rice, toast, applesauce, etc.) but if it persists, again, seek help.

      This may help you find RDAs, Link to Institute of Medicine (IOM)- of National Academies. For essential fats, the IOM Adequate Intake is 11g/d of linoleic acid (omega-6’s) and 1.1g/d of alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3’s). So yes, omega-6’s are still essential and you need some, but they are not as important to focus on as omega-3’s because they are more widely available from different foods. I will say that numbers and ranges (percentage of total calories and how much should be geared towards fats, let alone essential fats) can be tricky to calculate. We don’t have to me math majors to eat a healthful diet. if you insist we can discuss these ranges but I prefer not, and the link I sent should suffice. The omega’s in flax seed and walnuts are so high, that even an ounce could cover someone for the entire day! Assuming they are eating other foods like beans, greens, and whole grains, getting enough essential fat won’t be a problem. Let me know if this helps?

      Thanks again for sharing your personal story,


      1. Thank you very much for the resource, for your time & expertise!

        I will just mention a couple things and perhaps you can respond….

        I am just over 5 11 & only 135 lbs. I am very skinny, experience fatigue quite a bit (which seemed to diminish a bit with supplementation of B12), have digestive issues, acne & trouble sleeping. Beyond stress (which is significant) I am unsure what I can possibly do..?

        I eat lots of greens, vegetables, sweet potatoes, yams, oatmeal, (red) rice, black beans, sometimes quinoa, ground flax, and some fruit. I work at my local farmer’s market so I take advantage of cheap / ‘free’ local, organic produce and purchase only bulk, organic whole grains (as they are fairly cheap anyways). That is pretty much my diet though, whole grains and a large diversity of (mostly steamed) vegetables. I also supplement Vitamin D3 (5000 IU / day) & B12 (500mg / day). I also did buy an iodine supplement though stopped using it because one drop is 400mg which I later found out is too high and can cause problems (?).

        I started using Cron-O-Meter to make sure I am getting adequate intakes based on their recommendations and make a point to score atleast 97% a day.

        I don’t know if you can help any further, (again I really appreciate your time and information provided), but I don’t know if you have any ideas what could be causing any of these problems. I have trouble exercising because I lack energy and the ability to recover.

        Lastly, I currently pay to see a therapist which I have been doing for months now which has been very helpful as well.

        Anyways I just thought I would share this because I have no idea where to go to attempt to solve any of these problems. It is extremely hard being in high school, working full time hours and having trouble sleeping, experiencing fatigue and it doesn’t help to have acne and digestive issues.

        Just thought I would mention. Anyone feel free to offer any input, resources, etc. All support is appreciated ! :)

        1. Contrary to others on this site, I would recommend introducing soy ‘meat’ analogues
          and beans and nuts and perhaps a little oil in your cooking. Sounds like you aren’t
          getting enough calories and/or fat.

          For more, you might want to reach out to run by Jack Norris
          a Registered Dietician who will likely be of great help.

          Best of health to you.

          1. JakeN – I totally agree with the comment by Vee Gunne – get more protein (beans/ soy/ vegan meat products at least 3 times per day) and more nuts and avocados. Enrich your vege dishes with cashew cream sauces or dressings with lots of almond butter, and add beans/tofu etc into them. It sounds like you are short of calories, protein and possibly fat/essential fatty acids.

    4. JakeN, in addition to all the helpful responses you’ve gotten, I’d like to recommend removing gluten from your diet. Just try it for a few weeks and see how you feel! If you’d like to be tested for gluten sensitivity, the state of the art test is Cyrex Labs array #3. It looks for not just one type of gluten protein but the 10 that we most commonly react to. All 3 of the symptoms you mentioned can be associated with gluten sensitivity. and

      1. Good point, Julie. I do feel though that many “symptoms” are mistakingly associate with gluten sensitivity, as it is a hot topic. I have not seen good research to promote gluten-free diets. Surely, trying an elimination diet of sorts is fine to do but it takes planning. What is the testing mechanism you listed, Cyrex Labs array #3? Not that I claim to be an expert in allergy testing, but I would not suggest such tests without evidence of their efficacy. Just my thoughts. I still appreciate your post and I hope to learn more about allergy testing and the need for it.

      2. I have not eaten gluten in like a year now. I am thinking / planning incorporate it back though; based on Dr Greger’s videos.

        1. Hi Jake N,
          for me the best results came after eliminating sugar followed by dairy, then refined carbs.
          Adding Whole food starch eg. steamed sweet potato , gave me more energy. But everyone is different so it takes a while to tweak your diet for it to work for you.

    5. You do need sufficient omega 6 fatty acids which are easily available from seeds like sunflower seeds or nuts, like pecans or walnuts,etc. Walnuts also are a source of omega 3 too. Hemp nuts are also a good source of omega 6 and omega 3. No need to actually use any oil, just stick to the whole foods. Flax and chia seed are also excellent sources of lignans and fiber. Most diets have too high a ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 due to the use of vegetable oils in salad dressings and cooking. To avoid becoming a failed vegan make sure to eat enough whole foods, ie., don’t go hungry. Check out books by Dr. Fuhrman and Dr. McDougall and T C Campbell and this website for support. You might have a food allergy that needs to be discovered through an elimination diet.

  3. I was a big meat eater 15 months ago and now I’m completely vegan and have a really clean diet. I feel amazing. I have energy. I am so much happier and more positive. This has been achieved to a large extent by following St Michael’s brilliant reports and I must thank him wholeheartedly for that. The longer I go without meat and dairy the less is my desire for it and the better I feel. I can liken this to when I stopped smoking 22 years ago (I’m 62) – even today I occasionally feel the desire to smoke but that desire now lasts for a matter of a few seconds before it passes. 15 months into my new way of eating/drinking/exercising/sleeping/positive thinking/etc I still want to eat meat, fish and the like but the desire is now short lived – it passes pretty quickly.
    I hope that this short post (my first) might be reassuring to somebody out there. It is worth persevering. Keep at it. It does get easier and the benefits are huge.

    1. Congratulations BRIT! This is so great to hear and so inspiring! My mother (similar age) has found the same experience from going to a completely vegan, from a diet heavy in animals and animal products. She effortlessly dropped the excessive weight she was carrying since us kids were born, and she is happier and more energetic than I have ever seen her! And it was all just in time too and she has been bombarded with grandchildren in the last few years – but no problem for grandma to keep up these days!

      1. Hello Jocelyn. It felt really good to be called inspiring. Thank you. I lost 30 lbs without trying too hard but I’ve stopped losing weight now because I eat a lot more good fats these days – nuts, seeds, avocados, etc And I feel better for it.
        I was so pleased to hear about your mother’s successes. There can’t be a better reason for improving your health than to enjoy your grandchildren (even though it was a bombardment !!! ).

    2. Whenever I long for the taste of meat, fish or seafood, I go to vegan restaurants that serve vegan meat. The taste is very similar.

  4. “Eating more plant-based foods prolongs life”

    is synonymous with

    “Eating more animal-based foods hastens death”

    …statistically speaking, of course.

  5. In the late seventies when the Pritikin plan- which you could call flexitarian, came out, I was one of the first to try it. The problem was, I didn’t stay on it for very long. He allowed 3-4 ounces of meat a day. Well, I always made sure I had a full 4 ounces since I had a compelling taste for meat. Pretty soon I started eating just a little bit more, reasoning that a tiny bit more wouldn’t make any difference. It wasn’t long before I started forgetting my good intentions and was backsliding all the way to where I had begun. The problem with a flexitarian diet, for me at least, is that I never got the opportunity to loose my taste for meat as long as I was eating even a small amount of it. When I finally made the commitment to go totally animal free (except for a little honey occasionally) about 12 years ago, I had a rough time with the temptation. They say you can break any habit in just 21 days. I didn’t find that to be true for meat. Two months after giving it up, I still had cravings when I’d smell a neighbor barbecuing his steak. I can’t say when exactly I lost my desire for meat, but five months after going plant-based I went to a pot-luck and found myself disgusted with the smell of a platter of chicken as I walked past it, realizing for the first time that I had won my battle. Now, when I go in a grocery store, I head straight for the produce section, buy some rice, barley, and beans and head on out. I don’t even take notice of the huge display of meat or dairy any more. It’s as if they’re non-foods to me now.

    1. Hi Tara
      I found your post interesting reading
      I’m not at the stage you are but I’m getting there. I feel that addiction follows a similar pattern no matter what the nature of the addiction is. You can never say that you are completely over the addiction but the desire diminishes to a point where you feel in control of it. The desire for the meat/cheese/alcohol/nicotine/chocolate just simply gets less and less the longer you go without it.
      I can identify with your shopping experience – I only shop in the fruit and veg section now and I’m amazed at how many shelves in the supermarket are now of no interest to me.

      1. But is eating meat an addiction or a habit? I got over the habit of sucking my thumb by the time I entered my teens with a bit of effort and masking tape. Heroin and cocaine are addictions because they mess with your nervous system and produce distinct withdrawal symptoms. Same to a lesser extent with coffee. But I’m not aware of any withdrawal associated with meat.

    2. What eliminated any craving for meat that I might have is watching the video The animals were treated so shabbily (factory farms seem like concentration camps to me) in this video that it completely destroyed any craving or desire for me to eat meat. I used to LOVE bacon and cheese, but I try to avoid both like the plague. I don’t even eat faux meats, since I don’t want anything that even resembles meat.

      1. I agree with Daniel here, one of the big reasons I try to limit meat and anything processed, is the disgusting anti-life greed that is feeding like a cancer on the human population. The people who see making food as a mean to profit end up disrespecting both the lives of the animals, but also the needs of the plants and the Earth, and the people they “feed” or poison.

    3. I was pretty much a “failed vegetarian” all my life…always felt guilty eating animals when I did, but when I was younger, (I’m 62) and had kids and family, it just was too much of a hurdle to be conscientious about avoiding it completely. Nothing like a little health scare later in life to force you to rethink that! Sad but true, and a blessing because my health improved dramatically in many areas and not eating meat or animal products actually freed me of the burden of guilt too, so a real win-win for me! It is so much easier now, with all the info, recipes and help available on the web! Back then being vegan or vegetarian was more like a strange cult than a lifestyle choice, so hurray for progress…in some areas anyway. The cumulative “progress” to the SAD diet, and processed foods, not so much!

  6. There are the stories that come out every so often about the “oldest person in the world” … and almost inevitably meat/fish plays at least a part of their diet. I may be wrong, but I don’t recall ever seeing a vegan or vegetarian in that featured spot. If the longest lived people are in vegetarian groups according to this video, how is it that they seem to never show up as the oldest living person when their time comes?

    My guess is that the statistical computations are biased by things that screw up the average, like lots of other people dying in larger groups, like lots of poor, stressed out people, who eat poorly or who are exposed to things that more simple populations are not. My guess is that vegetarianism is most indicated for people who have overindulged their entire lives and not gotten enough activity and exercise or enough social support and have diseases from these factors, mostly atherosclerosis, COPD, etc. I would speculate that most of what these statistics are measuring is the possibility for some people in those societies to eat poorly and unhealthy lifestyles – so they tend to drag the averages down, while the people who do not have these “opportunities”, the people who live far away from the American food distribution system or who avoid it as a group fair much better. I just have a hard time to believe the deciding factor is not eating meat, because I think it would show up materially in the people who live the longest.

    1. You are missing a very obvious statistical effect, to the point where I’m tempted to give you a parable as a mnemonic device. But I’ll restrain myself.

      Among those who are likely to be recorded as the longest lived because of the general society in which they live (which includes at the very least accurate record-keeping), how many long-time vegetarians are represented in comparison to long-time non-vegetarians? If, for example, 99.9% or so of the French population ca. 1890-1900 is nonvegetarian, don’t you think that this will affect the relative numbers of French nonvegetarians alive at 2015?

      1. You guys are so zealous you really cannot resist being insulting or condescending in your rhetoric, and I don’t really appreciate that. If you have something that is relevant to the discussion, by all means, but comments like “you are missing” whatever I think are personal comments best left out. Because for the simple reason when you get all superior like that, you don’t sound very nice, and you come off as circling the wagons in your group and being defensive instead of being interested in discussing the issue rationally.

        You make a good point, but my counter-point would be these individuals are pretty much global these days. If some society struck on something that is significantly life extending, why would it not show up? You vegans tout the China study, which has its validity, and yet was so overly broad. Your point signifies to me that it is likely that being a “pure” vegan is not that huge a factor as is constantly claimed here by other statistics. That is all I am saying.

        I am totally onboard for many reasons of eating a WFPBD ( whole foods plant based diet ) but in the context of a forum like this the discussion becomes almost religious, and religious has NEVER settled any factual or scientific issue.

        1. Don’t you dare identify me with all vegans, or I’ll paint with a broad brush too and start talking about “you omnivores”.

          No one can really make a sharp distinction between very small amounts of meat intake and no meat intake, so it’s hard to say that vegan diets are strictly optimal for longevity. It is easier to say that they are among the best and that the distinctions between pure veganism and very nearly pure veganism will be small. If that’s the main point you want to make I already agree with you, but you don’t actually need to give excessive weight to world record longevity in order to efficiently make this case. The fact that you are doing so suggests a circling of the wagons to me — which may be partly warranted by the way you’ve been treated in the past, and partly unwarranted.

          But let’s clear away the rhetoric and start reasoning based on matters of fact and science if you still think there’s a point worth discussing. In your original post, you did an awful lot of explicit guessing. Let’s grant that no ‘vegetarian’ has yet been the oldest person recorded to be alive. What is the substantive claim that you plan to support based on this observation, and what other forms of evidence do you intend to invoke in support of it?

          1. “No one can really make a sharp distinction between very small amounts of meat intake and no meat intake, so it’s hard to say that vegan diets are strictly optimal for longevity.”

            That’s correct.

            The Japanese live the longest; they’re not vegan. They do, however, eat half of what Americans consume in meat. Some argue that it’s the abundance of omega 3’s from fish — but how can we be so sure? The Inuit eat a ton of omega 3 and live 10 years less than the average Canadian (consuming the SAD).

            So what’s the solution for Americans, then? Eat more meat?

            Enough with the silliness. Even the paleo cheerleaders who aren’t quacks know that the majority of calories should come from whole foods.

        2. I would say that the oldest person alive at any given moment is always going to be an extreme outlier. They probably have luck, genetics, and whatever else lining up in their favor.

          However, I can’t help but notice the large number of health-conscious plant-food eaters who have lived to an old age, such as:
          Ancel Keys (died 100)
          Jack Lalanne (died 96)
          Walter Kempner (died 94)

          as well as the several older plant-based doctors still alive today:
          Dr. Ellsworth Wareham (age 100)
          Caldwell Esselstyn (age 81)
          T. Colin Campbell (age 81)

          I suspect that in a few decades, we’ll start to see a larger number of vegetarians and vegans living to very old age, as vegetarianism and veganism becomes more popular. Give it time, and I suspect it will become obvious to all how powerful these plant-based diets are.

          I feel like I’m leaving some people out of my above list… if anyone can cite some other long-lived famous veg(etari)ans, let me know.

          1. Yeah, my Dad is 87 and in very good health. He drank like a fish his entire life, but he stayed very thin and controlled his weight. He was reasonably active, and never was a vegetarian, but ate pretty well. None of these anecdotal stories means much to me, and the stats are obviously interpreted differently by everyone. Common sense says that diet is not the predictor, other factors determine to the greatest percentage how long you will live and how healthy you will be, and diet can support that, but the claims being made by everyone on this subject are no different from the claims made in the past by other doctors that have been revised as well. I’ve heard pretty outlandish claims about diet and some even odder interpretations and defenses from the people who believe them or take what they say in their own way. Life is not knowing anything for sure.

            1. Well, the statistics say that heart disease and cancer kill about half of Americans. Anecdotally, that seems about right to me, if not an underestimate. If people like Caldwell Esselstyn are right, cutting out the animal products could reduce a person’s chances of having a heart attack to nearly zero. If people like T. Colin Campbell are right, cutting out animal products and increasing vegetable consumption could reduce a person’s chances of developing cancer by 80% or so. It’s all a probability game, but it would seem that the plant-based diet takes a multi-pronged approach to protecting the human body.

              Of course, if you have a congenital heart defect, or if you smoke 10 packs per day, or if you shoot yourself in the head, then diet will not be the determinant in your life span. But, all things being equal, the plant-based diet is pretty powerful from where I sit.

              In my case, I also find it effortless to maintain a healthy weight on a plant-based diet. When I was omnivorous (up to 2012), I ate so much meat and cheese that I gained about 50 pounds during my 20s. I loved meat and cheese, and preferred them over most other foods. By becoming strictly vegan, I now maintain a normal BMI automatically, without having to worry about it. So, by not becoming overweight or obese, the plant-based diet is indirectly helping people like myself when it comes to longevity. Of course, everybody’s different in that regard. Some people have self-restraint when it comes to the fattening foods. I didn’t.

          2. Lets keep it real about Jake Lalanne who I respect very much and enjoyed reading about.

            He was only a vegetarian for 6 yrs of his 96 yrs.
            He most always included salmon and boiled egg whites in his diet daily. He was concerned about getting enough “quality protein” after all he does super strongman feats. Like 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes.
            Or 1,000 chin-ups in an hr and 22 minutes till his palms were bleeding.

            In his television programs, he recommended the following meal plan; Breakfast: fruit, eggs and/or meat, and whole wheat toast . Lunch: Big salad, and meat/fish. Dinner: Big salad, two vegetables, meat/fowl, and fruit.

            He ate two meals a day and avoided snacks. His breakfast, after working out for two hours, consisted of hard-boiled egg whites, a cup of broth, oatmeal with soy milk and seasonal fruit. For dinner, he and his wife typically ate raw vegetables and egg whites along with fish. He did not drink coffee.

            LaLanne said his two simple rules of nutrition are: “if man made it, don’t eat it”, and “if it tastes good, spit it out.” He offered his opinion of the average person’s diet:

            He was also religious about taking 40 vitamins a day.

            Does everyone hear agree with his favorite quote?
            “Exercise is King and Nutrition is Queen” together you have a Kingdom…
            I wasn’t sure about that one myself…lol

            “I hate dying, it would ruin my image.”
            His father died at age 58. Jake died at 96 I believe after he went to a Dr to get a “minor heart problem operation” and ended up dying of respiratory failure due to pneumonia.

            Similar to Joan Rivers dying after getting one more minor younger face job.

            1. Thanks for the info on Jack Lalanne, GaryS. I knew he wasn’t a strict vegetarian for his whole life, but I knew that he thought about health all his life, and he did lean vegetarian toward the end of his life. I remember listening to his interview with John McDougall, and the only nutritional point they seemed to disagree about was the importance of egg whites. Jack was adamant that they are the “highest quality protein,” while McDougall was obviously skeptical, but polite out of respect for Jack.

              I think Rip Esselstyn once quoted Jack Lalanne’s kingdom analogy, but said he would reverse the King and Queen roles. I think Jack was way ahead of his time, but in my experience I would reverse the roles as well. Diet keeps me thin, and exercise always makes me feel better. If you have a terrible diet and get fat, then it becomes that much harder and less enjoyable to exercise properly.

    2. Here’s a really interesting blog. According to it, of the ten oldest people to ever live (at least those we have verifiable records of) two were vegetarian and at least one was semi-vegetarian. Most all of them were very short and so probably produced less IGF-1, they tended to be lean, optimistic, moderately active physically and few smoked. There were exceptions, but these may have had exceptional genes and I think that although eating healthy and moderate exercise may get you into your late 80’s with a little luck, virtue alone won’t make you a centenarian. To live past 100 probably requires great genes that may not even be phased by fried food, whiskey or tobacco.

      1. “To live past 100 probably requires great genes that may not even be phased by fried food, whiskey or tobacco.”
        Not to mention the chemicals, pollutants and toxins we are bombarded with these days in everything from our water, land and air, to the actual ones we inadvertently or otherwise, ingest or slather on! It’s a nightmare!

      2. A cautionary tale…

        Quote from a newsletter…

        “The decline in physical function results directly from a loss of muscle strength. Let that sink in for a moment…the loss of muscle strength is the primary reason we institutionalize older people. It gets worse.

        Studies have now shown that three simple tests involving muscle strength can predict with astounding accuracy which middle-aged adults are less likely to live a long and healthy life. (BMJ 14 Apr 29;348:g2219)

        Dr. Rachel Cooper from the University College of London performed these tests on a group of 1,355 men and 1,411 women (all aged 53). She then analyzed their mortality data through 2012, when they turned 63 years old. During that period, 177 died.

        After evaluating the data, Dr. Cooper and her colleagues adjusted for all kinds of complicating variables, such as lifestyle, health status, socioeconomic position, etc. Even after the adjustments, those in the lowest quintile (1/5th) of physical capability were 3.68 times more likely to die than those in the highest quintile. Those who were unable to perform any of the tests had a death rate 12 times higher than those able to perform all three tests.”

        So basically, muscle loss won’t just get you institutionalized, it also significantly increases your risk of dying earlier.”

        In my case…I know that a regular exercise program (2 – 1/2 hour sessions per week plus walking) makes a lot of difference….i.e….being able to get around without thinking a lot about it…though caution is in order.

        Another quote…

        “In September 2012, I devoted an entire issue to the importance of adding meat broths and/or gelatin (10–25 grams a day/1–2 tablespoons) to your diet. After a couple of months of incorporating these essential raw materials for joint repair into my diet, the positive results I’ve witnessed have been nothing short of amazing. And to make sure I’m covering all the bases, I also use a daily joint supplement.

        Joint deterioration is one of the most common and fastest-growing health problems in our society. It occurs in all joints, but since the knee is the largest and most complex joint in the body, knee problems have soared. And we’re not just talking about in the elderly. Between 2001 and 2006, there was a 130-fold increase in total knee replacement surgeries in those aged 30 to 59.

        In just the last decade, the number of total knee replacements performed annually in the US has doubled. And this number continues to skyrocket. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010, more than 719,000 total knee replacement surgeries took place. It is estimated that, by 2030, knee replacement surgeries will rise by 643 percent to 3.48 million procedures.

        There are now more total knee replacements done than total hip replacements, coronary artery bypasses, coronary stents, hysterectomies, intestinal biopsies, balloon angioplasties, and even bone fracture reductions.

        More than 2 million fractures annually in the US are directly attributable to osteoporosis. In 2001, osteoporosis-associated fractures were responsible for $17 billion ($47 million per day) in hospital and nursing home costs.”

        3rd quote…

        “According to two dose-response studies, young men required 20 grams of quality protein (whey) per meal to stimulate muscle growth following exercise, but older men needed twice that amount–40 grams per meal–to achieve the same stimulation. (Br J Nutr 12 Nov 28;108(10):1780–8) (Am J Clin Nutr 09 Jan;89(1):161–8)

        These studies used whey protein because it has a higher concentration of the branched-chain amino acids including leucine, which is the key to repairing and gaining muscle tissue with age.

        While fruits and vegetables are an important part of the overall diet, they don’t provide the amino acid profile needed to build or retain muscle. And while soy might be touted as a great protein, whey or even milk protein (which contains whey and casein) is far superior at putting on lean muscle tissue. (Am J Clin Nutr 07 Aug;86(2):373– 81) (Med Sci Sports Exerc 10 Jun;42(6):1122–30)”

        This last one is probably antithetical to the studies detailed in the videos? Especially the leucine?

        From what I can gather…older people have somewhat different that possibly by age 65 or so…different factors might be more important as far as extending lifespan and healthy lifespan? IF you have some muscular strength and flexibilty…you are more likely to exercise and thus help yourself cardiovascularly? *is that a word?

  7. Is there a good follow up for the “40 Year Vegan Dies of a Heart Attack! ” video? I am wondering if the new knowledge of b12 and Omega 3/6 ratio has filtered into longitudinal studies yet.

  8. I found this chart quite helpful with regards to plant based sources of omega 3 .
    It also explains how vegetable sources of DHA (ALA) is converted by an enzyme in our body in plain language.

    Thanks to someone who commented about the ratio of peanuts , 180:1 (!!) , It’s’s now going to be put at the back of my pantry.
    Congratulations to Michael , stick with WFPB and you will see amazing improvements !

    1. I think it’s worthy to note peanuts and other nuts with poor omega 6:3 ratios still offer a great source of protein, zinc, iron and other protective components. Just don’t rely on them for omega-3’s ;)

  9. I found this chart quite helpful with regards to plant based sources of omega 3 .
    It also explains how vegetable sources of DHA (ALA) is converted by an enzyme in our body in plain language.

    Thanks to someone who commented about the ratio of peanuts , 180:1 (!!) , It’s’s now going to be put at the back of my pantry.
    Congratulations to Michael , stick with WFPB and you will see amazing improvements !

    1. Right! About half of the Adventist population in the U.S. is vegetarian and use dairy and eggs. Only a tiny minority of these are vegan. the often consume processed foods high in salt and fat. The official teaching is to avoid pork and shellfish among those who do eat meat. What this means that if even on a less than ideal diet, Adventists live ten years longer, then just think of the untapped potential that we can reach on a truly clean whole foods plant-based diet!

  10. What is your opinion about the book titled “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet” by Nina Teicholz? This book was published in 2014, and was listed as a New York Times bestseller. The author reveals that everything we thought we knew about dietary fat is wrong. She documents how the low-fat nutrition advice of the past sixty years has amounted to a vast uncontrolled experiment on the entire population, with disastrous consequences for our health. She claim that more, not less, dietary fat—including saturated fat—is what leads to better health and wellness. The low-fat, whole plant based diet and her meat, cheese diet are very confusing to say the least! Your opinion?

    1. Shirley: I feel like this whole website is a response to that book. But in particular, these videos might be helpful:

      And then related videos:

      I also recommend Plant Positive to understand what is wrong with Nina Teicholz’s “logic”. He has really great videos, but here is an article to get you started:

      In short, Nina’s “documentation” seems pretty bogus. I totally agree that it is confusing. But I think it is confusing only because some people are misrepresenting the science – not because the science is actually unclear on this point.

    2. I’m not surprised in the slightest that Teicholz’s book is a bestseller. The whole point in publishing it wasn’t to promote public health, but private wealth. As Dr. McDougall is fond of saying, “Folks love ‘good news’ about there bad habits. I prefer “there’s a sucker born every minute.” I hope you don’t get fooled by this book, Shirley, and that no one else who reads this site will either. If they do, they’ll have a big fat surprise waiting for them at the end of a few years, probably on the cardiologist’s cutting table.

  11. I switched to WFPB 5 days ago. I feel like poo. No energy and brain fog is worse now than ever before. I feel like i may have the worst indigestion ever since starting this new diet. I know 5 days isn’t much time to see how this will really benefit me but… What gives?
    Also, can anyone tell me if its a good idea to have 1 cup of Eden Organic Soymilk daily? or do I really not need it? I’ve been using it as a base to a spinach/berry/mango smoothie. I feel like without the soymilk my calories are too low. I’m finding it hard to get my calories up(even with the Soymilk). What my days have looked like so far:
    Smoothie breakfast
    Beans rice and salsa for lunch with a banana or apple for dessert
    Banana or apple for snack
    Sweet potato and steamed broccoli for dinner

    A little about me, if it may help you help me.
    Im 30 years old, female, about 30 pounds overweight.

    1. Hi FMS, that sucks that you’re not feeling great with your change in diet. Your food choices look really great – high micronutrient content, high fiber, low fat. Though I ran a quick guesstimate on your example menu (using standard servings, which may be different from what you’re actually eating), and it only added up to about 900 calories, which could be part of your fatigue and brain fog. Which of course leads to the next part of your comment, which is that you clearly state that you’re struggling to get your calories up. Just a few suggestions that I could think of offhand:

      -Adding chia seeds and/or banana to your breakfast smoothie could add ~150-200 calories
      -Making sure you’re eating a full serving of both rice and beans. I used to eat much less than 1 cup of rice, until I actually measured it out one day, I was surprised what a big portion it is. Change from 1/2 cup to 1 cup of rice would add about 100 calories.
      -Try including more calorically dense processed (but still whole grain) starches like bread or pasta in lieu of intact starches like rice or whole potatoes
      -Perhaps for now, try more starches instead of/with your fruit snacks/desserts (a low sugar/fat fruit cobbler with oats and flour, or granola bar would be a more calorically dense dessert/snack option)
      -Sweet potatoes are great for weight loss since they are so incredibly filling, but as a result your dinner appears to be very low in calories. Adding a higher calorie component e.g. hummus would be an option, or you could swap for some less satiating foods like bread, rice, or pasta.
      -And also, all of the whole foods plant based doctors/RD – Greger, Esselstyn, Fuhrman, Novick, Barnard, Popper, Gonzales? ;) promote or allow 1-2 oz nuts/seeds per day. This can easily add a couple hundred calories as well.

      As for soy, it has numerous health benefits and one serving is in no way too much, unless you’re severely restricting fat or added sugars (if it’s sweetened).
      General soy info:
      “How much Soy is Too Much?”:

      As for indigestion, again more easily digested starches and less veggies/unblended fruit could possibly help with that. I weirdly get discomfort from eating sweet potatoes in particular, but that’s just me. For immediate relief, I have found a slurry made out of powdered slippery elm bark in water to be highly effective. A side effect is that it also relieves any digestive discomfort. It can be found at health stores/co-ops.

      Best of luck! Keep us posted on how you’re doing :)

      1. Boomer give a smoothy high in red cabbage a try when faced with indigestion, I had to use 2 – 3 omeprazole a day or I would feel very awful, but haven’t touched a single one for a year now. I attribute most the turnaround to high fiber intake and red cabbage smoothies.

      2. Hi b00mer, thanks so much for the response.
        Should i worry about consuming too much fruit? I did order some flax seeds to add to my smoothies, so that’ll add calories too. Thank you for your input! I truly appreciate it.

    2. Add nuts!
      I could easily go over my 2,500 calorie limit from walnuts alone :-)

      Add more starches as well. Beans, too.

      Use myfitnesspal to keep track of calories.

    3. No doubt you’re loosing weight. When the fat goes, fat-soluble toxins stored in the fat are released into the bloodstream. That can also make you feel lousy at least until your weight starts to stabilize. Hang in there, in a month or two you’ll feel like a new person.

        1. Hi FMS , for some reason Chick pea salad gives me energy without the drowsiness I feel after lunch.
          I agree with Mike about adding nuts & seeds to your daily snacks , eg. walnuts.
          You might already have a coffee grinder , you can grind your flax seed until they’re powdery and add a few teaspoons full to oats and fruit in the morning.
          You’ll also pickup good recipes as you go , and good advice at this site which helped me too !

    4. Hi FMS. Congratulations on your decision to at least give WFPB living a try. I hope you stay with it long enough for your body to adapt; however that may manifest for you only time will tell. This presentation from Dr. Michael Klaper may be of benefit to explain why you are feeling worse for your dietary change and not better. All the best to you going forward. Let us know how you are doing as time goes by, if that is your pleasure.

    5. Hi, FMS. Sorry to hear you are not feeling well. First thing I suggest is seeing aregistered dietitian who can personalize a WFPB diet and can walk you thru a quality solution. Second, (if that is not an option), maybe try thinking back to how you ate before making the switch? Were you having smoothies for breakfast? Drinking soymilk? Were beans and rice staples? How much broccoli are you having and are you eating it daily? If you brought in tons of new foods that may be throwing the body off a bit. Hard to really say and I so wish I could be more help :(
      Hope you are getting some good advice here I see some constructive comments.

  12. My husband and I were on Fuhrman’s nutro WFPB for two years and were strict- – however rather than feeling better I felt worse (tired, bad constipation and had cravings for sugar) and unfortunaely my TC, LDL and Glucose while not really high did not lower. If anything they edged up a bit. I decided to go to 80% nutro and incorporate meat )do not like fish) about twice a month, had blood drawn several months after that and to my amazement my TC, LDL went down and my CRP went down to 0.5. I also felt better which I have no clue about?? Before this we did not even own a Barbeque! My IGF-1 was also really low, and my Dx told me to get it up to at least 100, so go figure. My husband on the other hand, his TC, LDL were unblievablely low while on Fuhrman, but he also felt tired and he unlike me craves meat. especially on Fuhrman- – So I have no clue??? I have the utmost respect for both Dx Gregor and Dr. Furhman. BTW- – Fuhrman either visited the seventh day adventists or knows more about the research, but he indicated in one of his posts on his board that even the veggie adventists were eating processed crap, so I am taking my changes with 100% whole foods and incorporate some meat into my diet and hopefully I will be OK along with my husband. I do know one thing is that I am much more relaxed about going “off the reservation” or being a food nazi if the food choice is not strict vegan or no oil.

    1. Do what makes you feel best.

      Don’t get trapped in vegan/paleo/raw-food/primal/fuhrman/flavor-of-the-week dogma.

      Just like not everyone does well on a high fat diet, not everyone does well on a high carb diet either.

      1. I resent you describing my lifestyle of non-harm as a dogma. Veganism is not a diet and deserves the same respect and as other belief systems, such as religions.

    2. The consensus seems to be plant foods heal, and animal foods harm. Though I choose to be primarily vegan, I will eat fish or seafood in very rare or special circumstances, because eating is more than just a physical need. I do really feel however, though we are all different, as individuals, we need to strive toward the most plant based end of the spectrum to counter-balance the multi-layered negatives of any flesh consumed…after all, it isn’t just ourselves we are hurting.

      1. It is not just about health. It is not wise to consume any fish when the ocean’s fauna population has reduced by 90% since the 1950’s.

    3. I followed a high vegetable vegetarian diet for a while and felt terrible: I think that is the kind of diet Fuhrman advocates. I believe the problem is that on a high vegetable diet you’re not consuming enough carbohydrates and often too much fat. When I switched to a more high carbohydrate vegan diet I began feeling fantastic and full of energy. Cravings are normally caused by lack of carbohydrates (starches). Check out John McDougall’s program or Colin T. Campbell or Neal Barnard: they’re the best vegan doctors in my opinion.

    4. Low fat WFPB diets as promoted by many here might not be ideal for everyone.

      I don’t like them. I like to eat some processed soy ‘meats’ and such and I use olive
      oil in my cooking and eat nuts as well vegan ‘mayo’, use margarine etc.

      I don’t think adding fat and processed ‘meat’ analogues is a bad idea for folks
      who are struggling with a low fat WFPB diet. I prefer the approach offered by the
      likes of Jack Norris RD and Vesanto Melinda RD in their book Vegan For Life.

      Take a look at for an alternative approach to healthy vegan
      eating that allows for nuts, oils and processed ‘meat’ analogues. It might help some
      who are struggling.

  13. Paradoxically I think it’s actually much easier just to do all plant foods: you get used to it and it becomes completely normal. Humans generally work better when things are black and white. Excellent video though.

  14. Excellent video.

    Web-admin: The menu covers the video when my browser is between 630 and 850 pixels wide. When my browser window is less than about 850 pixels, then menu items don’t fit on one line, the menu expands vertically and covers the video. It fixes itself (adaptive) again at about 630 pixels wide.

  15. 2:26 PREDIMED Scoring criteria: 1 Veg, .. 4 Cereals, 5 Potatoes, 6 Nuts, 7 Olive oil.

    Is that an unordered list or does the order mean that vegetables are weighted differently than nuts and olive oil?

    Did the researchers score individuals before data was taken or did they first monitor participants’ eating habits and health, then score their eating later? Were the scores and weighting optimised based on the data (non-blind)? I ask because the study seems to frame the possible results (f.ex. “olive oil vs saturated fat” without considering “no oil”). Foods are provided by the olive oil, walnut, almond, and hazelnut industries. Rather than pursuing optimal health, they likely only hope to demonstrate their products’ qualities (nuts) or that they are better than competitors (oil).

    1. Alex, they scored PREDIMED participants according to 12 criteria: 7 ‘positive’ provegetarian, which you list, and 5 ‘negative’ or antivegetarian which basically relate to animal products.

      The scoring system gives you an extra point each time you go up a quintile in one of the positive categories, and one less point each time you go up a quintile in a negative category. Scores were taken for each point at which PREDIMED followed up in asking participants about their current diet. The scoring system can be assumed to be non-blind, though it looks that it is partially blind in the sense that the researchers only selected categories to be used in defining the ‘provegetarian’ score, rather than numerical weights (which were arbitrarily set to 1 per quintile). In table 6 they try their hand at building a simpler scoring system based on numerical cutoffs that might more easily be used to predict risk in other populations.

      1. Yeah I grok the ‘good’ list vs. the ‘bad’ list. Thanks for clarifying the +1 vs -1. With all that data, I bet we could find groupings and weightings far superior to their score, albeit after the fact. Sure it would be ‘cherry picking’ but would be easy enough to follow up the hypothesis blind.

        It sounds like you have access to the study. I only found a single ‘about’ page. Is the study publicly available?

        1. No, this study has closed access.

          And indeed, one of the things that they report as part of their sensitivity analyses is that toggling eggs and dairy to the ‘good’ list still yields a statistically significant model with similar hazard ratios.

          Part of what the authors are suggesting with their analysis is that a very coarse a priori selection of some sort of vegetarian pattern explains mortality in this study quite well. Their model really sucks from the point of view of predicting risk in a variety of populations (and the authors pretty much knew this in advance), but it helps to make one point quite well: PREDIMED was based on favoritism toward a particular kind of MedDiet idea, but there’s an alternative hypothesis to contend with that says that really, relative success in this study population was through adherence to a vegetarian pattern.

          Also even we granted that it’s a deceptive or manipulative tactic to use a lot of free parameters to try to find the best available model here, it’s not cherry picking. I’d be very cautious about using the term accurately, even in scare quotes, if only because the charge of ‘cherry picking’ is fashionable as the last resort of the weak in certain arguments about diet. I’d like it if we worked to limit confusion in this area by choosing words carefully.

          1. I sympathise with your reluctance to assert CPing, but that’s precisely what *I* propose to do, if I had access to the raw data: to find the minimal combination of data that provides the best results. It’s not deceptive, though, if we compute all gazillion possible combinations and select the optimal results (rather than the results ‘we want’).

            It’s truly sad to me that thousands of participants and millions of dollars is thrown at a study while the most useful findings are not extracted even tho the data is just sitting waiting to be mined.

            1. Read up on the definition of cherry picking. It is not seeing what the best model is according to some a priori statistical criteria; it is suppressing evidence in order to bias the conclusion. When Keys chose the best fit regression line through six countries’ data, he was not cherry picking; but if he selectively chose which countries’ data to include in his plot in order to get a particularly high slope to the line, that would be cherry picking.

              1. You make a good point. However, selecting some biased criteria is nearly unavoidable. Given thousands of participants, dozens of recorded data points each, trillions of permutations, finding true stat sig optimals is computationally intensive. Before modern parallel computing it’d be impossible; Even today it’s difficult.

                Much easier is to start (or end) with a theory (X,Y,Z good while A,B,C bad) and compare it to other reasonable theories. The more competing theories the better.

                What this study/findings seems to have done (in my reasonable opinion*) was decide to group known benefits (nuts, veggies) with known neutral/negatives (oils, wine) to get a pre-intended desired result (that nuts, veggies, oils, and wine are healthy). Of course, I haven’t read the study nor data (no access), so perhaps “vegetarian” was just one of many groupings tested (as implied by the next video “Improving on the MeDiet”). Maybe there’s a no-wine group and a no-oil group and a 2x nut group and hundreds of other groups tested. They certainly have the data and such calculations would be of obvious interest. I assert that failure to do so would be intentional suppression of evidence.

                * Funded by Spanish nut and olive oil industries.

              2. Perhaps my critique is extreme. Martinez-Gonzalez et al’s proveg FP (2:26) was just a sub-study/analysis of the PREDIMED which itself focused on Med+EVOO vs Med+Nuts vs AHA/Control. Similarly in the first Med video (2:20-2:40) Francesco et al’s meta-analysis scoring system weighted fruit, veg, legumes, cereals, fish, and olive oil positively; 12-2 g alcohol was moderate/middle-weighted; meat and dairy reverse-weighted. Very similar scoring systems but for fish and alcohol. There’s an insistence that the Med diet must contain olive oil, fish, and wine. I suppose because an optimal subset by any other name would not smell as sweet.

  16. 0:12 (Greek EPIC study) total mortality reduced by veg 16.2%, fruits and nuts 11.3%, legumes 9.7%, moderate alcohol 23.5%, low meat 16.6% and [replacing saturated fat with] olive oil 10.6%.

    Has there been an interventionist study demonstrating non-alcoholic red/purple grape juice’s advantage over wine?

    I understand monoun- is less bad than saturated fat, but only some omega-3 and -6 PUFA’s are actually required by the human body. Is there any evidence that humans would thrive if they obtained all or the majority of fats as EFAs? Is any other fat source required?

  17. Does anyone have any idea how much meat is okay based on those numbers? I went from 3 servings of meet or more per day, to a couple per week. I am concerned about other studies that Dr. Greger presented that seems to show that any meat at all is extremely harmful. This may suggest otherwise.

    1. Martinez et al did not crunch the numbers in a way that would be likely to answer this kind of question, and the context of the PREDIMED data (fat people eating for the most part badly, no matter the intervention, with a median followup of only 4.8y, and the best-scoring quintile still consuming an average of 105 g meat a day) is not the best for assessing where ‘low’ risk from meat begins unless you have a very loose standard of ‘low’ risk.

      If you are contemplating an even greater reduction in meat intake for health reasons, this video should probably not be that important to you in making that decision, although it does suggest that there are some important effects which improve health the more and more (whole-food) plant-based you are.

      1. I didn’t quite understand what you were saying. Are you saying that 100 G per day is a large quantity of meat? I used to eat 500 g per day. IT seems that 100G is not too large. But I am eating far less. Perhaps 50G per day.

        1. 100 g (about 1/4 pound) meat per day, and a variety of other animal products in addition. The fact that you are eating much less in comparison is my point. You are in a region where the actual variation between quintiles doesn’t very well explore what will happen by reducing meat intake even more. The window of the study is very short compared to the timescale in which relatively small amounts of animal products will have effects on cardiovascular events in non-obese people.

    2. Hard to say, Richard. Some groups like the American Institute for Cancer Research claim there is no safe intake of processed meat and red meat should be < 18 oz per week. It is really up for you to decide. From what I take from this video is that the more plants the better, and of course whole plant-foods not fries and beer. I may point out this blog on the ratio of animal to plant protein and cancer risk. And this one on meat intake and mortality. I hope these help.

      Thanks for your question and being patient,

  18. This is good news! Glad my “economic vegan” principle (not purchasing meat, diary, fish products), allows me to not be a PITA (Pain in the Ass) vegan and still not be measurably harmful to self or others!

    1. I understand what you’re saying, but it is discrimination and bigotry that causes necrotarians to consider us “a pain in the ass” just for being different to them, and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your preferences just so snobbish meat eaters don’t go in on you. Screw their inverted snobbery and double standards.

  19. Does anyone have the english language links for the Predimed Study questionaires? All the links I have found download the PDFs in Spanish.

    1. Never off topic! I’ll check thanks, nodelord. Did you have anything in particular you’d like to know? I only see a handful of studies. The fatty acids in hemp seeds are comparable to flax and chia. Some research suggests hemp seed and evening primrose oils caused an increase PUFAs in MS patients and improvement in the erythrocyte membrane fatty acids composition. This is not surprising, as folks eating more sources of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) should have more in the membranes of red blood cells. If you like them, I see no concern eating hemp seeds.

      1. Well, just looking for the usual stuff that we get see here, on the qualites of a food item, like does it have an effect on cLDL, how does it compair to othe food in its catagory or can it do something special?
        I realy appreicate you asking.

        1. You’re welcome! I don’t see any studies on hemp seed and cholesterol. Other members may find more info on this. If anything pops-up I’ll be sure to post. Thanks again.


    2. love um… we agree on this. I like hulled help seeds in place of flax in my oatmeal. It has a better omega 3:6 ratio plus omega 9s… Only problem is there is a unfounded social stigma around hemp products. That’s too bad, hemp is a super-food.

  20. This is one of the best videos I have watched. Thank you. This video encourages me to continue making a lifestyle change to eating more vegetables because it shows that incremental changes have health benefits. I now have something I can share with my wife and family to get them moving in the same direction as me.

  21. I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that I thought was interesting:
    To prevent colorectal cancer, the second most deadly cancer,
    a vegetarian diet with some fish might be the best protection according
    to a new study of 77,659 people.
    Wall Street Journal article here (you may have to Google it):
    “Vegetarian Diet Lowers Risk for Some Cancers” by Michael

    Also, this is the abstract of the study from JAMA:

    1. Thanks for reposting. Yes, squid is low in saturated fat but 3 oz has 198 mg of cholesterol. Squid seems more like shrimp. I would be leery of the high amount of cholesterol in squid. It has even more than beef and chicken! One video on squid can be found here. Let me now if any of these resources help? Thanks again, Joshua.

      1. Whoa, wait a minute. My impression was that bad cholesterol was caused by ingestion of saturated fat, not by ingestion of bad cholesterol. Am I missing part of the mechanism?

        1. You are correct that saturated fat boosts blood cholesterol more than dietary cholesterol, but dietary cholesterol still raises blood cholesterol slightly. This British Medical Journal blog explains. Dr. Greger commented at the end stating “Indeed the Institute of Medicine did not set a tolerable upper intake limit for cholesterol “because any intake level above 0% of energy increased LDL cholesterol concentration.”[1] So the optimal intake may indeed by zero, as heart disease remains the leading killer in both the UK and US. [1] Trumbo PR, Shimakawa T. Tolerable upper intake levels for trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Nutr Rev. 2011;69(5):270-8.” See if that helps explain? His video on Optimal Cholesterol Levels may also help.

  22. I have been a strict Vegan for close to a year after I discovered your videos. Thanks for making a huge difference in my life! Recently I was listening to John Tesh radio and he asserted that a pescatarian diet has more anti-cancer benefits than a vegan diet. Is this truly “intelligence for my life,” or does the science say otherwise? Please advise.

    1. Hey Kevin. Thanks! I am not sure if you can compare vegan and pescatarian diets in a randomized controlled trial. Of course you could make arguments depending on the make-up of each diet, but I don’t think there is any hard science. The best example might be observing outcomes between the diets within the Adventist Health Studies. Women following a vegan diet were found to have the most protection from female-specific cancers. There could also be many reasons for not including fish. Ultimately it’s up to the consumer to decide what’s best for their body. I am happy to explore other studies or literature. Thanks again for your nice comments and question.

    2. Kevin: If memory serves, Joseph already gave a great reply. I just thought I would offer another take on the topic.

      For someone to claim that eating fish offers more cancer protection than a straight vegan diet, they need to have some really good proof. Because we have lots and lots of reasons to believe that animal protein and other problems that come with eating animals, especially fish, promote cancer growth. (For example, check out the series on this site about IGF-1, linking animal protein to cancer.)

      You might also want to check out today’s blog which links fish eating to Type 2 diabetes risk.

      Here is a nice overview of what the science says about fish. So, my lay person answer is: The science says otherwise.

  23. As a result of the good Doctor’s lecture’s I have started moving to a MORE plant-based diet. I am wondering to what extent I am sabotaging my health by not completely eliminating animal-based (mostly dairy) foods. Is a diet significantly plant-based, but including a small amount of dairy, undoing most of the benefits of a PBD?

    1. I am curious as to what do you eat that you think is questionable.

      I have maybe 4 eggs a month. I might eat 1 very lean steak or fish ( salmon ) in a month or two.

      I might have a couple yogurts with blueberries in a month.

      Some butter in a cheese sandwich, though I am phasing those out because I do not feel good after eat a cheese sandwich.

      I don’t drink sugary drinks or much fruit juices any more, but I will drink coconut water. On a real hot day or if I am dehydrated I will sometimes have a GUS cola ( GUS = grown up soda 70-80 calories per bottle ) That is a guilty pleasure, but I keep it to just a few in a month.

      The rest is whole foods plant based as I can get it, and that I need to shift more towards more fruit and greens. I like the acronym from Dr. Joel Fuhrman – G.B.O.M.B.S. = Greens, Beans. Onions, Mushrooms, Berries and Seeds.

      When I did not eat like this i did not feel good. If I ate too much animal stuff I felt bad, sluggish, in a bad mood, depressed. But now with a diet where animal stuff is in the small minority, I noticeably feel good when i might have an egg or some pieces of steak.

      I also try to average over an hour of exercise per day, mostly walking, or running.

      One thing I think is important is to always to thinking about what one can reasonable to do improve. Do not set unreasonable goals. Do not beat yourself up or feel like a failure when you make a mistake, and look at different products to compare, prices, nutrition. I found Morningstar Grillers Primes, which were veggie burgers, that I lived on for a while because they are so good and taste better than most burgers I think. Make good substitutions that move in the right directions and me, I don’t worry about micromanaging nutrients at all … in fact there is a new mental disorder for people who do that ….

      >> Orthorexia nervosa /ˌɔrθəˈrɛksiə nɜrˈvoʊsə/ (also known as orthorexia)
      >> is an eating disorder[1] characterized by an extreme or excessive
      >> preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy.[2][3]
      >> The term orthorexia derives from the Greek ορθο- (ortho, “right” or “correct”),
      >> and όρεξις (orexis, “appetite”), literally meaning ‘correct appetite’, but in
      >> practice meaning ‘correct diet’. It was introduced in 1997 by Steven Bratman,
      >> M.D., to be used as a parallel with other eating disorders, such as anorexia
      >> nervosa. Orthorexia nervosa is not considered to be an eating disorder
      >> according to the American Psychiatric Association, and is not mentioned
      >> as an official diagnosis in the widely used DSM[a]. The term was coined by
      >> Bratman[4]who claims that in rare cases, this focus may turn into a fixation so
      >> extreme that it can lead to severe malnutrition or even death.[5] Even in less
      >> severe cases, the attempt to follow a diet that cannot provide adequate
      >> nourishment is said to lower self-esteem as the orthorexics blame themselves
      >> rather than their diets for their constant hunger and the resulting cravings
      >> for forbidden foods. [6]

    2. goom: Here’s what I understand Dr. Greger’s message to be when it comes to the topic of moderation (eating less animal foods as opposed to none): When it comes to certain measures, there is no ‘safe’ amount of animal products. You get less and less risk the less you eat. So, less is great. It means that you are cutting your risk. The question is: how much risk do you want?

      Here is one of the Dr. Greger’s recent videos on the topic of moderation. I believe that it does a good job of speaking to the point. Re: “What if we don’t just want low risk for a heart attack, but no risk? …in cholesterol lowering, moderation kills.”

      My 2 cents: I personally would not characterize your diet as “sabotaging your health” nor “undoing the benefits”. You have made a great step to reducing your risk. The big picture would be: I think you are on a great path that just hasn’t reached the destination yet–if your goal is to do as much as you can to minimize disease risk/optimize chances for health. Part of the problem is that you say you eat a small amount of dairy, but ‘small’ is meaningless in terms of figuring out risk. Your ‘small’ might be a risk factor’s ‘big’.

      My advice is: “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.” You don’t have to be perfect. Just because you may not be at your destination goal-wise when it comes to diet, you should be proud of yourself for the gains you have made so far. **And** see what you can do to continue to make changes to improve your diet – moving even more toward eliminating animal products and eating more whole plant foods.

      If you tell me what type of diary you are eating and how often, I could offer you some suggestions on things to try to help you take the next step. Only if you are interested of course.

      Good luck. Hope this helps.


    TABLE 1 (Scoring Criteria for Proven food pattern) listing 7 vegetable food groups (1-7) and five animal based food groups (8-12) appeared clearly for a whooping 4 seconds from 2:24 to 2:28 of the video.


    1. Are plant foods grouped from best for longevity to worst? i.e- plant foods in group 1 more longevity promoting than 2>3 etc..

    2. If so just how were researches able to determine the relative merits of each group of “good food”.

    3. Is there a correlation between the short duration this very important table was present and the fact that nuts ranked just above vegetable oil (various grades of olive oil) and below the lowly potato in mortality reduction? ~just saying~

    FLIGHT OF IDEAS (if answer to question 1 is no please ignore the ideas)

    Group 1 (non-starchy vegetables) lots of micronutrients but not a main dish as not calorically dense enough to provide adequate calories.

    Group 2 (fruits) A good snack between meals and excellent desert when served with blended dozen bananas (pick a berry- any berry- to throw in. However, certainly not a main meal.

    Group3 certainly good but getting majority of calories from group 3 foods problematic for many (palatability, flatulance for those working around real people, excess protein).

    Group 4: does cold breakfast cereal have to be grape nuts, shredded wheat, original cherrios or is lucky charms & fruit loops just as acceptable?

    Group 5: Finally, there is hope! Why eat lousy boiled potatoes when I can eat chips and fries- don’t need Srirachi or Catchup.

    What’s Dr. McDougall’s response likely to be? I think he’ll say “Dr. Greger- at least potatoes are healthier than nuts and the fat you eat is the fat you wear!”

    Group 6: (Dr. G’s prized nuts)

    Group 7: (pressed Oil- Olive)

  25. I’ve been on a plant based diet for 2 months now and your videos have been such an incredible wealth of information. Thank you. My question is about a video I saw on YouTube called “Optimum Vegetarian Nutrition, Surprising New Research on Omega 3s and B12”. But the YouTube search lists it as “40 year Vegan Dies of a Heart Attack”. To the best of my comprehension, Dr. Greger discusses several studies on the mortality of different diets and finds there is no difference between the meat eating diet or plant based diet. The plant based diet people were healthier, but still died at the same longevity. But then he mentions the Lyon Diet Heart Study where they had to stop the study due to the vasts differences. Both my husband and I are just confused. Was the basis of the lecture that a plant based diet is healthier, but you need to also take omega 3s and B12, otherwise your survival rate is the same as a meat eating diet?

    1. corlealeo: re: “Was the basis of the lecture that a plant based diet is healthier, but you need to also take omega 3s and B12, otherwise your survival rate is the same as a meat eating diet?” I believe I saw the talk you are talking about. And I believe that you have generally nailed down the lesson from that lecture.

      However, I would point out that that lecture is very old. Dr. Greger has a book coming out in December called, How Not To Die. This book will contain Dr. Greger’s latest recommendations and understandings and summaries of the literature. Along with lots of practical advice. I haven’t read the book, so I can’t say what the conclusions will be regarding omega 3s. (It will surely still contain a strong recommendation for B12 supplementation.) But I think that this book will contain much more of the big picture and be far more straight forward. (That’s my guess.) If you are interested in pre-ordering, you can do so here:
      Here is a nice description of the book, along with a way to enter a drawing if you pre-order a copy.

      (FYI: 100% of the proceeds go toward supporting this site. Not to Dr. Greger himself.)

      I’m guessing that bits and pieces of the books conclusions will be coming out in various videos on this website. So, if the idea of buying the book doesn’t appeal, you will probably be able to get the info here eventually.

      I also wanted to say: Kudos to you for giving whole food plant based eating a try! I hope things go well for you.

  26. Because of the antibiotics I am taking (Lyme) I have been given recommendations for a diet for preventative management of yeast overgrowth. This yeast control diet directs me towards “protein foods such as meat, fish, fowl, cheese, eggs & dairy AND away from fruits (because they contain a large amount of sugar) also away from starches (including potatoes, rice and beans). I am looking for a plant based diet alternative that is complex carbohydrates, high in fiber yet limits simple sugars and address the goal or concern of this prescribed animal based yeast control diet. I understand that many cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment who are also asked to adhere to this kind of diet. A video presenting an alternative would be highly valued by many. Thanks

  27. I’d be interested in which amount of animal food is an acceptable amount. For myself I’m absolutely with the complete plant based diet, because of feeling, taste and interesting in science and medicine.
    But I want to bring my parents on the train, too and that’s a hard thing.
    Sure as low as possible, but a “acceptable” limit to call them for the beginning would be fine.
    So how much would you “allow” and is the amount of animal protein or the gram weight a better indicator? And an extra advise for milk as liquid in difference to the other animal food would be nice.

  28. Dr. Greger, could you comment on the work of Dr John McDougall, whom you have listed as mentor? It seems like there are some key differences in what you suggest vs. what his plan prescribes, although there is obviously some overlap. His diet, so far as I can see, is extremely low fat, while your videos are less so, with healthy portions of nuts, flax, Omega oils from Algae sources, etc.

  29. Dear Dr. Greger and fellow discussion members,

    I have been watching many of your videos and I have to say that I really appreciate your work. I read on your website that you are very appreciative of messages that point you towards studies that you have not touched upon or that contradict things that you have said in your videos. I know that you are supportive of the elimination of all animal products from a health and nutritional perspective. I completely understand that there is a consensus in the community of nutritional science that eating more towards a whole foods plant based diet is the healthiest choice. However, it seems that some links between the intake of certain animal products and disease or mortality remain inconclusive. To be more concrete I am wondering about the following contradicting studies and your perspective on these:
    In this study they concluded the following: “a high consumption of processed meat was related to moderately higher all-cause mortality. After correction for measurement error, red meat intake was no longer associated with mortality, and there was no association with the consumption of poultry. Processed meat consumption was associated with increased risk of death from cardiovascular diseases and cancer.” Except for processed meat, this study did not find other types of meat to have negative effects on mortality.
    All the above mentioned studies focus on the relation between fish consumption and disease/mortality and speak of a ‘reduced risk’, what would your view on these conclusions be?
    In this article by T. Colin Campbell, he theorizes that saturated fat and dietary cholesterol are not necessarily bad but that it is actually the animal protein that causes health problems. I know that your view on saturated fats and cholesterol is different and therefore I wonder how you view Campbell’s perspective.

    Finally, I would very much appreciate if you could elaborate on a video about the “dangers of eating meat once a week” ( as the studies in this video mostly concern the effect of meat on diabetes. Is there a well-developed body of studies conducted that focus on a comparison between a vegan and non-vegan diet in which the latter living mostly on a whole food plant based diet but with a very small intake of meat and/or fish (less than twice a week for example and after controlling for age, weight, alcohol, exercise, smoking, family history for disease, etc.)? So in concrete – and without including the ethical or environmental aspect of veganism but only focusing on the health aspect – would a very limited intake of animal products in the form of fish or meat (so no dairy or eggs) differ from a strictly plant based diet? You also demonstrated the Okinawa diet, which mostly consists of plants but also a very limited amount of animal products, can promote longevity as well.

    I would very much appreciate if you could respond to my questions and the content of the studies that I addressed.

    With kind regards,

  30. To set the record straight about 7th day adventists of Loma Linda living longest among blue zones, the longest lived group among them were actually pescatorians, not vegans.

  31. In the topic summary for meat on NF it says “To see what effect an increase in meat consumption might have on disease rates, researchers studied lapsed vegetarians. People who once ate vegetarian diets but then started to eat meat at least once a week were reported to have experienced a 146 percent increase in odds of heart disease, a 152 percent increase in stroke, a 166 percent increase in diabetes, and a 231 percent increase in odds for weight gain. During the 12 years after the transition from vegetarian to omnivore, meat-eating was associated with a 3.6 year decrease in life expectancy”. The topic summaries for plant-based diets, vegetarians and vegans refer to this study, too. However, I could not find any reference to the actual study (or the studies), not even the title, authors or year. Can anyone tell me where these numbers are from? Thanks so much in advance!

    PS: I apologise if the error lied upon me not being able to find the reference. However, in order to have be a serious source of health information, I suggest the references to be made very clear and obvious including in the topic summaries.

  32. Speaking about flexitarians and mortality how about pescetarians and mortality?
    In the AHS-2 it was found that pescetarians live longer than vegans.
    I didn’t find anything on that topic on this website even though the study is being quoted a number of times.
    Me myself I am vegetarian and I’m not opposed to veganism at all but reading “how not to die” taught me to look closely at all kinds of facts and studies and I’d just like to know your opinion on that.

  33. Yes, according to the Loma Linda study, pescetarians do seem to live longer than vegans. At least if you don’t take other factors into consideration.

    I have been vegan on and off for over two years, but can honestly say I don’t feel any healthier being vegan than I did being primarily vegetarian. So much so, I now incorporate eggs and fish in my diet occasionally, as I feel this All Or Nothing approach to eating is really unhealthy. Especially as, so far, there is little if any research proving vegans actually do live longer than vegetarians or meat eaters.

    Besides, the Japanese in particular are the world’s longest living people and eat meat, fish and eggs (not so much dairy though), and the Spanish are the world’s second longest living people and eat a diet packed with meat and dairy products.

    For me, I try to eat relatively healthy but have decided vegan or a completely plant-based diet just does not work for me. After all, there is no point adhering to such a diet if you just end up feeling worse. All in moderation, I say :)

  34. The compromise approaches bother me, for a few reasons. The first is that it’s very hard to give up bad behaviors that you cling to by continuing to do those things. So the fact that it’s daunting is sort of the reason most people probably need to go all in. The second is that people don’t have the opportunity to see how profound the changes in health are, even if they don’t excessively compromise, which they will, because, see problem one – giving up too little of something you want to keep doing will seem like plenty, and the results will tell the truth. And the last reason is that it undermines the message for everyone else, because all that persons circle of friends and family will see is someone who “tried all that” and still had the same problems. So I guess if people are really clear that the goal is wfpb and less might be somewhat better than nothing, then good, but that’s a kind of tough sell I would think. It seems better to emphasize that better than nothing is pretty pale next to really committing.

    1. J Lindsay, but you’re making the assumption that the 100% vegan diet is actually the healthier one, and that has never been shown to be the case. Just because it’s conceptually easier to consider oneself a vegan, or that eating any animal protein at all “undermines the message” doesn’t make it the healthier choice. Michelle’s decision is based on how healthy her body feels when she eats vegan compared to adding in a little animal based food. Dietary studies do not tell the whole story, so ultimately we need to be able to trust our own bodies when it comes to fine tuning our diet.

  35. I usually love Dr. Gregor’s videos, but I feel that this one is misleading. He points out (as what seems to be the crux of his reasoning) that the the people with the highest life expectancy don’t eat meat. While it’s true that the Seventh Day Adventist are vegetarians, they do eat eggs and dairy. Considering that they live in the US and are influenced by US culinary culture, I would assume that their use of eggs and dairy is fairly liberal. In other words, their intake of animal protein, saturated fat and cholesterol is probably FAR higher than that of say the Okinawans.

    The Seventh Day Adventists also abstain completely from alcohol, which may be the most significant factor in their longevity.

    According to the huge Adventist Health Study 2, pesco-vegetarians are found to live the longest.

  36. Dan Buettner in one of his books on the Blue Zones mentions, in discussing the Seventh Day Adventist studies, that pescovegetarians lived longer than the pure vegans. Is this true? Is it significant? Is it perhaps an artifact of how the data on diet were obtained?

  37. “Veganism” does not necessarily confer any health benefits whatsoever. In all the studies I’ve seen, the “vegans” are not necessarily eating unprocessed plants. Keep in mind that “vegans” could be eating Wonderbread slathered with vegetable shortening or Oreo cookies or certain varieties of Pop-tarts, all of which will kill you faster than if you ate nothing but whole fruit, vegetables and some poached wild fish. All evidence suggest that the healthiest lifestyle is restricted to eating unprocessed plants. I have yet to see any study that compares this lifestyle to one including fish. If you’re aware of one, I’d be very interested in seeing the results.

    Dr. Ben

  38. Hi,

    I have been almost exclusively consuming whole plant foods for the past 2 months, and plan to continue this for hopefully the rest of my life. However, there are two exceptions that I have made for myself in terms of consuming meat: one, if there really are no healthy meatless options available (i.e. restaurants), and two, when there is a meat-containing food that I have never tried before (i.e. travel), as I really value experiences. I don’t plan on these exceptions occurring more than 2-3x per month, but ideally as little as possible. Is there any evidence to suggest that very infrequently consuming meats could potentially have worse health effects than slightly more frequently consuming meats (i.e once per week). I was thinking this may be a possibility if, for example, my body is completely unprepared for a meat product and this could cause more damage than if it is slightly more equipped. Or if there is no evidence, what would you recommend.

    Thank you for your time and input!
    Mitchell Piacsek

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