The number of people in Australia who follow vegetarian or plant-based diets is growing rapidly, with experts saying that vegetarianism can actually be healthier than a meat-based diet in the long term.
Now, another study has suggested that a diet rich in animal protein may be best avoided.
The research, conducted by the University of Eastern Finland, has revealed that a diet rich in animal protein and meat in particular is not good for your health and can even be associated with a greater risk of early death.
The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that men in particular who favored animal protein over plant-based protein in their diet had a greater risk of death 20 years down the line than those who consumed protein from other, balanced, sources.
For the purpose of this study, someone who eats a diet rich in meat was considered as eating more than 200 grams of animal protein per day and those participating in the study consumed primarily red meat.
The research results are based on men who were aged around 53 at the start of the study. Therefore the health effects of eating an animal protein-rich diet on females, versus eating different protein sources, needs further study.
However, the results do support earlier studies that have suggested that a high intake of animal protein – especially processed meats such as sausages and cold cuts – is bad for your health, with most dietitians recommending people limit their intake of red and processed meats as much as possible.