Replacing meat and dairy with vegan alternatives cuts risk of heart disease by third, study finds

Caroline Allen
·Contributor
It's good news for vegans. (Getty Images)
It's good news for vegans. (Getty Images)

Replacing meat and dairy with vegan alternatives can cut your risk of heart disease down by one third, a new study has found.

It’s good news for vegans, as researchers have found that even those who occasionally dabble with a plant-based diet will see the benefits of it.

By subbing out red meat and replacing it with nuts and seeds each day, people are 30% less likely to die of a coronary heart disease.

Even if you can’t give up meat in its entirety, those who are able to swap to a plant-based diet for just 3% of their daily intake can cut their chances of dying of heart disease down by a tenth.

Read more: Is vegan seafood the new trend in plant-based food?

The study suggests that in order to benefit people will need to reduce their intake of red meat, specifically. That doesn’t always include replacing it with nuts and seeds, people still boasted positive results by replacing it with bread, cereal or pasta.

This way of eating cut the chances of premature death by heart disease down by a quarter.

The study, by the National Cancer Institute in Maryland, USA, is a big one, too, and has been worked on over the past 16 years, analysing data from 400,000 people to determine the results.

The scientists discovered what they describe as an “inverse association” which means that the more people swapped out their meat intake for pulses and grains the lower their risk became.

Even if people were only able to manage the diet change for a little portion of every day, they would still reap more benefits than those who ate meat as part of many of their meals.

Read more: Should vegans be given their own shelf in the office fridge?

“This large cohort investigation showed small but significant associations between higher intake of plant protein and lower overall and cardiovascular disease mortality,” Dr Demetrius Albanes, one of the authors of the study, explained.

“Prominent inverse associations were observed for replacement of egg protein and red meat protein with plant protein, particularly for plant protein derived from bread, cereal, and pasta.

“Findings from this and previous studies provide evidence that dietary modifications in choice of protein sources may promote health and longevity.”

Read more: Take a look at Galaxy’s vegan chocolate range

Last year, it was announced that veganism had grown fourfold over the past four years as vegan foods became more readily available to plant-based eaters.

Eating out used to be a problem for vegans, who made up just 0.25% of the population in 2014, but as more people opt away from meat, restaurants and fast-food chains are left behind if they don’t adapt to the UK’s new way of eating.

Much of this explains why so many restaurants and brands are releasing vegan-friendly versions of their popular meals, with brands from McDonald’s to Birds Eye cashing in on this new and growing market.