At a recent cookout with friends, our side dishes were all fresh fruits and vegetables. One guy, who had wrapped his hamburger in romaine leaves instead of a bun, scrutinized the yellow bell pepper strips he was eating, then said “I wish I was a vegan.”
We all did double takes, since he obviously had meat on his plate, so he explained.
“This just tastes so good right now,” he said, waving the pepper strip. And then he waxed eloquent about the pepper’s sweetness.
I don’t know if he’ll go full-bore vegan anytime soon, but a recent study does suggest that a vegetarian diet could contribute to a longer life.
The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, tracked more than 70,000 members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church over a six-year period. The church promotes, but does not require, following a vegetarian diet.
About 12% fewer vegetarians died during the study, compared to meat eaters, according to The Wall Street Journal, and vegetarians were 19% less likely to die from heart disease.
There seemed also to be fewer deaths among vegetarians from diabetes and kidney failure, according to the Journal, but there was no apparent advantage where cancer was concerned.
NPR’s food blog The Salt points out that vegetarians in the study were also more likely to be more highly educated, to drink and smoke less and exercise more than those who ate meat, making the report’s findings tenuous where the superiority of a meatless diet is concerned.
That’s a valid criticism — and I’m not necessarily advocating a vegetarian diet here — but it’s good to see multiple studies and stories in the mainstream news that reinforce the value of eating plenty of fresh produce.
Speaking of which, Google plans to add at-a-glance nutritional information to many food search results, including fruits and vegetables.
On May 30, Ilya Mezheritsky, product manager, announced the feature on the official Google Search blog.