Go vegan to live long and prosper

| 6 September 2023
minute reading time
Old people

Two studies show the key to a healthy old age Is a healthy plant-based diet.

The first looked at the effects of diet in 371,159 adults aged 50 to 71, from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, one of the largest-ever diet and lifestyle studies in the US. During 23 years of follow-up, 165,698 deaths occurred. Those eating diets low in fat (especially saturated fat) and high in healthy carbohydrates and plant protein had the lowest rates of death, including from heart disease and cancer. Those eating diets high in fat and protein, particularly from animal products, and low in carbohydrates, had the highest rates of death. The authors concluded that replacing saturated fat and low-quality carbs with unsaturated fat and plant proteins may lower the risk of death.

Another study, which looked at how diets affect our risk of disease and death, followed 126,394 middle-aged adults in the UK for over 10 years. Those who ate a healthy, plant-based diet – with higher intakes of fruit, vegetables, pulses, wholegrains and nuts and lower intakes of animal products, sugary drinks, snacks and refined grains – had a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer and an overall 16 per cent lower risk of dying during the follow-up period compared to those with the lowest intakes of these healthy plant-based foods.


Zhao Y, Li Y, Wang W et al. 2023. Low-carbohydrate diets, low-fat diets, and mortality in middle-aged and older people: a prospective cohort study. Journal of Internal Medicine. 294 (2) 203-215.

Thompson AS, Tresserra-Rimbau A, Karavasiloglou N et al. 2023. Association of healthful plant-based diet adherence with risk of mortality and major chronic diseases among adults in the UK. JAMA Network Open. 6 (3) e234714.

About the author
Dr. Justine Butler
I joined Viva! as a health campaigner in 2005 after graduating from Bristol University with a PhD in molecular biology. My scientific training helped me research and write numerous reports, guides and fact sheets for Viva! including Meat the Truth, Fish-Free for Life, One in Nine (breast cancer and diet) and the substantial report on the detrimental health effects of consuming dairy; White Lies. This accompanied Viva!’s report The Dark Side of Dairy which spelt out the inherent cruelty of dairy farming. We were the first UK group to take on the dairy industry in this way, and many of our supporters go vegan after reading these reports.

View author page | View staff profile

Scroll up