There are many reasons why a purely vegetarian diet seems absolutely reasonable. Above all, animal welfare and climate change. However, there is also something to be said against it, as a long-term study conducted since the 1990s shows. And these consequences should not be underestimated: Broken bones.
Eating vegetarian means a higher risk for your body
The background to scientific knowledge about the possible consequences of vegetarian diets is a study called EPIC-Oxford. Researchers have been looking at the influence of diet on cancer risk in 65,000 people in Britain, many of whom are vegetarian, since 1993. Consequently, this increases the risk of fractures, especially at the hip.
This is due to the observed lack of calcium and protein and the fact that vegetarians tend to be leaner and therefore have less meat to cushion a fall. According to NewScientist, previous studies have already shown that a vegetarian diet leads to lower bone density, the effect on the risk of bone fractures, unlike vegans, has not yet been fully clarified.
Researchers consider the risk of bone fractures in vegetarians to be high
According to the study published on November 23, 2020, 25% more vegetarians than meat eaters suffered hip fractures between 1993 and 2010. Among vegans, more than twice as many people suffered such fractures and also, unlike vegans, vegetarians, had a higher risk of suffering other types of fractures.
A closer look at the subjects’ food intake showed that the meat eaters consumed more calcium and protein. According to Tammy Tong, a researcher at the University of Oxford, without an active dietary supplement, vegetarians, and especially vegans, are unlikely to be able to absorb the necessary amount of calcium and protein from their diet alone.
That’s what’s behind EPIC-Oxford
The project is part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). The main objective is to investigate how diet influences the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
EPIC-Europe was launched in 1992. About 500,000 people from ten European countries participate. The project is coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization (WHO). Financial support comes from the European Union (EU) and national funding organisations.
If you don’t want to eat meat, but you also don’t want to do without a vegetarian diet, you can opt for in vitro meat. But another source of animal protein, insects, could also prevent bone fractures.
Sources: NewScientist, BMC Medicine: “Vegetarian and vegan diets and total and site-specific fracture risks: results from the EPIC-Oxford prospective study.“, EPIC-Oxford
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