Whether you choose to eat meat or have hopped on the vegetarian bandwagon, you've probably recognized that the debate between which is the healthier way to go can get real personal real fast. But the battle between meat eaters and die-hard vegetarians might end in a winner-takes-all veggie victory, according to a new study from the Mayo Clinic. (Could You Be Genetically Programmed to Be a Vegetarian?)
In a clinical review of six existing large-scale studies that involved over 1.5 million participants, researchers in Arizona set out to investigate the effects of a meat-filled diet on mortality rates. And what they found is bad news for meat lovers.
Among their findings, which were published in the Journal of The American Osteopathic Association, the researchers concluded that meat eaters experience higher rates of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as an overall increased risk of mortality over their vegetarian counterparts—enough to make you think about going for the veggie burger over beef this summer. (Not convinced? We've got 12 Reasons a Vegetarian Diet Is a Good Idea.)
When they drilled down deeper into those studies, they uncovered a few more nuanced findings. Red meat is by far the worst culprit, although one of the studies did link white meat to increased mortality from cardiovascular disease. (Is Red Meat Really Bad for You?) There also didn't appear to be any difference between processed meats and straight up steaks, so cutting sausage from your breakfast special isn't going to do anything for your longevity if you're still splurging on filet at dinner. And, finally, they found the biggest increases in mortality with the smallest increases in meat consumption, which suggests that even if you only splurge on meat during one meal a week, your mortality rate could go up. (P.S. Here's Why a Plant-Based Diet Is Ideal for Weight Loss.)
Overall, the researchers concluded that those who abstain from meat entirely have a life expectancy of about three and a half years longer than meat-eaters. You win this one, vegetarians...