Intended for healthcare professionals


Vegetarian diets and health

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 04 September 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l5272

Linked research

Risks of ischaemic heart disease and stroke in meat eaters, fish eaters, and vegetarians over 18 years of follow-up

  1. Mark A Lawrence, professor1,
  2. Sarah A McNaughton, professor1
  1. 1Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of Exercise and Nutrition Science, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia
  1. Correspondence to: M A Lawrence lawrence{at}

Report of an increased stroke risk should be explored by researchers and kept under review for guidelines

A substantial proportion of the world’s population is vegetarian, although prevalence varies substantially across different regions of the world.1 Vegetarians do not eat meat or any meat products, fish, or poultry and also might not consume eggs and dairy products. Commonly reported reasons for consuming a vegetarian diet include cultural values, religious beliefs, ethical views, environmental concerns, and health considerations.

Existing studies have reported mostly protective associations between vegetarian diets and chronic disease risk factors. One systematic review and meta-analysis of 10 cohort studies reported a significant protective effect against ischaemic heart disease but not total cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.2 However, there have been calls for more evidence on possible associations between dietary patterns and stroke outcomes.1

In The BMJ, Tong and colleagues report the latest findings from the EPIC-Oxford study (doi:10.1136/bmj.l4897),3 which examined the associations of meat eaters, fish eaters, and vegetarians with risks of ischaemic heart disease and …

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