6 studies from 2023 that support a plant-based diet

| 3 December 2023
minute reading time

It’s far more common to read scare stories about vegan diets in the tabloids than it is to find positive ones – because bad news and negativity sells more newspapers. But the real truth can be found in the pages of well-respected scientific journals. Here are six studies, all published in 2023, that have found health benefits of following a plant-based diet but may not have been reported on in the mainstream media.


1. Vegetarian and vegan diets and the risk of cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease and stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies

This systematic review, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, looked at 13 cohort studies involving 844,175 participants to investigate links between a vegan diet and cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease and stroke. Although the researchers didn’t find a relationship between vegan diets and stroke (they stated more research is needed), they did find that diets excluding animal products reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and ischemic heart disease. Considering heart disease is the biggest killer in the developed world, that’s pretty significant!


2. Vegan and omnivorous high protein diets support comparable daily myofibrillar protein synthesis rates and skeletal muscle hypertrophy in young adults

It is often assumed that vegans will not be able to build muscle as effectively as meat-eaters, based on the false assumption that a plant-based diet is lacking in protein. Well, this study put this theory to the test by pitting groups of young adults against each other. They were all given the same high-volume resistance exercises to do but some consumed plant protein while the others used animal-derived protein. At the end of the study, various muscle measurements were taken.

The researchers actually found that young adults consuming plant protein have absolutely no problem building muscle and concluded that both groups had “similar skeletal muscle adaptive responses during prolonged high-volume resistance training, irrespective of dietary protein provenance.”


3. Association of healthful plant-based diet adherence with risk of mortality and major chronic diseases among adults in the UK

This prospective cohort study examined whether healthy or unhealthy plant-based diets are associated with death and major chronic diseases among UK adults. They used data from adults in the UK Biobank who were recruited between 2006 and 2010 and followed until 2021. By analysing all this data, the researchers found that those following a high-quality plant-based diet had lower risks of total mortality, cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as lower risks of myocardial infarction (heart attack) and ischemic stroke. They concluded that “a diet characterised by high-quality plant-based foods and lower intakes of animal products may be beneficial for health, irrespective of established chronic disease risk factors and genetic predisposition.” Unhealthy plant-based diets did not protect health.


4. Beneficial effects of plant-based diets on skin health and inflammatory skin diseases

Many people turn to specific diets – or eliminate certain food groups – in the hope that it will improve their skin. But what does the science say? The authors of this review, published in the journal Nutrients, wanted to explore the beneficial effects of plant-based diets on inflammatory skin diseases and healthy skin. After evaluating the evidence, the researchers concluded that a plant-based diet has many positive effects on skin health. They suggest that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of a plant-based diet, and the way in which plant foods positively affect the microbiome, may explain their beneficial effects on skin health.


5. Plant-based dairy alternatives contribute to a healthy and sustainable diet

This study, also published in Nutrients, examined both the environmental and health impacts of dairy alternatives compared to cow’s milk. They used data from UK research to calculate the environmental impact of plant-based dairy alternatives and also examined the nutritional impact of replacing 250 millilitres of dairy milk with plant-based milk within the EAT Lancet Planetary Health Diet. The team of researchers concluded that plant-based milks “have a substantially lower environmental footprint than dairy milk. The production of plant-based dairy alternatives uses markedly fewer natural resources, such as land and water, and greenhouse gas emissions are considerably lower in their production.” When it came to the health impact of dairy alternatives, they concluded that plant milks “made from soya and pea have ample protein with regard to both quantity and quality. Fortified non-organic varieties provide levels of calcium and vitamin D comparable to dairy milk.”


6. Plant-based diets reduce blood pressure: a systematic review of recent evidence

This systematic review summarised the most recent findings regarding plant-based diets and blood pressure. They reviewed 39 scientific papers and found that “the overwhelming majority of intervention studies demonstrate that plant-based diets result in lower blood pressure readings when compared to diets that are based on animal products.” The authors concluded – quite certainly – that a plant-based diet is beneficial for reducing blood pressure as well as improving overall health outcomes.


These six studies add to a huge growing body of evidence suggesting that a well-planned plant-based diet is optimal for human health. Bit by bit, the misinformation and stigma surrounding vegan diets is being eroded by high quality science. Soon there will be nowhere left for the doubters to hide.

About the author
Nicholas Hallows
Nicholas has been vegan since the early 2000s and worked for Viva! between 2017 and 2020 as a Senior Administrator and Web Content Assistant. He is a qualified teacher, specialising in Language and Literacy, and an accredited Proofreader and Editor. He is now a freelance writer covering topics including veganism, mindfulness and minimalism.

You might also like...

Scroll up