Focus on Diabetes

| 21 May 2024
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Meat increases diabetes risk

Replacing red meat with plant-based protein sources may reduce the risk of diabetes and provide environmental benefits according to this new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

They looked at the diets of over 200,000 people and found those eating the most meat had a 62 per cent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those eating the least. Each additional daily serving of processed or red meat was associated with a 46 per cent and 24 per cent greater risk of developing the disease respectively.

The researchers also estimated the potential effects of substituting one daily serving of red meat for another protein source. Substituting meat with a serving of nuts or pulses was associated with a 30 per cent lower risk of type 2 diabetes and substituting a serving of dairy products was associated with a 22 per cent lower risk.


Vegan diet improves insulin resistance in just two days

The aging process is often accompanied by chronic low-grade inflammation and impaired glucose metabolism. This study compared the effects of a vegan diet with one containing meat in 30 healthy adults over 65. They found those eating the vegan diet had healthier insulin levels, improved insulin resistance and significantly lower blood sugars and markers of inflammation within just 48 hours. Those with low-grade inflammation appeared to benefit the most.


Gu X, Drouin-Chartier JP, Sacks et al. 2023. Red meat intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in a prospective cohort study of United States females and males. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 118 (6) 1153-1163.

Döschner L, Schulze K, Göger L et al. 2024. Effects of a short-term vegan challenge in older adults on metabolic and inflammatory parameters – a randomized controlled crossover study. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. 68 (4) e2300623.

About the author
Dr. Justine Butler
Justine joined Viva! in 2005 after graduating from Bristol University with a PhD in molecular biology. After working as a campaigner, then researcher and writer, she is now Viva!’s head of research and her work focuses on animals, the environment and health. Justine’s scientific training helps her research and write both in-depth scientific reports, such as White Lies and the Meat Report, as well as easy-to-read factsheets and myth-busting articles for consumer magazines and updates on the latest research. Justine also recently wrote the Vegan for the Planet guide for Viva!’s Vegan Now campaign.

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