Michael Mosley compares the difference between a meat lunch and a vegetarian lunch to find out whether or not it is actually healthier to be a vegetarian?
Watch the video and answer the questions below.
1 What percentage of Adventists are vegetarian and what meat-eaters?
2 What is the advantage of using Adventists for health-related studies?
3 How many subjects have participated in Dr Gary Fraser's studies?
4 What's the difference in dietary habits between the reporter and Dr Fraser?
5 What do cardiovascular risk factors involve?
6 How much beef do you need to eat to have massive risk to your health?
7 What's the difference in life expentancy between meat-eaters and vegetarians?
What makes Adventists of particular interest to scientists is that although about half are vegetarian, around half eat meat so the two groups can be compared. And unlike the wider population, Adventist meat-eaters tend not to be heavy smokers or drinkers, factors which can influence any comparisons between vegetarians and more red-blooded Americans.
Since the 1950s, scientists at Loma Linda University have been conducting numerous health studies on Adventists. The most recent have been trying to identify the health habits of the long-livers. I am here to meet Dr Gary Fraser, who's been leading this research for three decades covering over 150,000 Adventists. These huge epidemiological studies track people's diets and lifestyles and look for associations between what they eat, their overall health and what eventually kills them.
Hi, Mike Mosley, hello. Nice to meet you.
I'm joining the good doctor for lunch and as I'm on a high-meat diet, our choices couldn't be more different.
OK, so differences in what we've got here, then.
I've got pulled pork while Dr Fraser has a vegetarian salad with nuts.
I have to confess, I had bacon for breakfast as well.
I had four rashers of bacon.
Wow! All right. I hope you survive this experiment.
So kind of broadly, what have your studies revealed?
That when you look at cardiovascular risk factors in a broad sense - diabetes, hypertension, being overweight, having increased blood lipid levels - that the vegetarians are doing better than the non-vegetarians. And indeed that has translated in most of the studies to the vegetarians having a lower risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease, so that whole area, I think, is fairly well established.
Dr Fraser found that men in the study who ate beef at least three times a week had double the risk of fatal heart disease compared to the vegetarians. And this apparently massive risk to health was in people eating under 60 grams a day, which is less than your average Brit and half what I'm currently eating.
So you have found that even eating what some people would regard as quite a modest level of meat makes a difference.
I mean, how big a difference?
You know, I don't think we have all of the answers on that to be very precise about it and of course your plate of food there has got some things on there that go beyond the meat that I wouldn't necessarily recommend. So let me put it this way. That plate as compared to this plate, where I have replaced the meat with nuts and with whole-grain bread and so forth, our evidence says that you're probably looking at a difference of five years, four to five years in life expectancy.
2 Adventist meat-eaters tend not to smoke or drink
4 the former is a meat-eater and the latter is a vegetarian
5 diabetes, hypertension, being overweight, having increased blood lipid levels
6 eat beef three times a week / 60 grams a day
7 four/five years