Multiple Health Benefits and Minimal Risks Associated with Vegetarian Diets

Jason P. Rocha, Janese Laster, Bhavyata Parag, Nihar U. Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: Understand the current prevalence, health benefits, and health risks of vegetarian diets. Recent Findings: Since the publishing of the Adventist Health Study 2 in 2013, there have been several prospective diet studies demonstrating and challenging the health benefits and risks of the vegetarian diet. Summary: The definition of the vegetarian diet has become more specific over time and requires standardization for research purposes. Despite an uptrend in sales rates of plant-based foods per year, a 2018 Gallup poll showed overall stagnation of the percentage of self-reported vegetarians and vegans compared to percentages obtained 6 years prior. Compared to the Adventist Health Study, more recent vegetarian diet studies have demonstrated significant although smaller risk reductions for mortality in cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, and chronic kidney disease. Recent studies have correlated certain food groups with early death or increased longevity. In addition, the vegetarian health risks of deficiencies of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and zinc are explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)374-381
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Nutrition Reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Benefits
  • Calcium
  • Cardiovascular
  • Cerebrovascular
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Diet
  • Fatty acids
  • Flexitarian
  • Healthy
  • Iron
  • Omega-3
  • Plant-based
  • Protein
  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Whole food
  • Zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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