Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
Long-term, peer-reviewed study of 55,000 people finds that vegans, vegetarians, and pescatarians suffer from dramatically higher risk of bone fractures.
Weak and brittle bones are, in the majority of cases, an ominous sign of a nutritionally deficient diet. That being the case, those following various types of plant-based diets are putting their bone health at risk according to a very large, long-term study published in November 2020 by the peer-reviewed journal BMC Medicine.
This study builds upon previous research revealing that plant-based diets fail to adequately support bone health. For example, vegetarians suffer from far more cavities and other tooth problems than those who eat meat.
ALL Plant-Based Diets Tied to High Fracture Risk
The study’s findings summarize decades worth of data spent tracking the diet and fracture risk of about 55,000 people in the UK. The breakdown is as follows:
- 29,000 meat-eaters (omnivores)
- 8,000 were pescatarians (vegetarians who eat fish)
- 15,500 were vegetarians (dairy and eggs consumed but no meat or fish)
- 2,000 were vegans (only plant foods consumed)
All of the participants enrolled in the EPIC-Oxford study between 1993 and 2001. EPIC refers to the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition, one of the world’s largest cohort studies.
The study analyzed data collected over an 18 year period. During that time, roughly 3,900 fractures occurred:
- 566 broken arms
- 889 broken wrists
- 945 broken hips
- 366 broken legs
- 520 broken ankles
- 467 fractures of other bones, including the ribs, spine, or collarbone.
Vegans, vegetarians, and even fish-eating pescatarians all exhibited higher risks of fractures than meat-eaters, in some cases, astronomically so according to lead author Tammy Tong, a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of Oxford.
Hip fracture risk in vegans was 2.3 times higher than in people who ate meat, equivalent to 15 more cases per 1,000 people over 10 years,” she said. In addition, vegans also had a higher risk of fractures anywhere in the body, as well as fractures of the legs and vertebrae when compared to the meat-eaters. (1)
Fracture Risk Persists after Adjusting for BMI
Lona Sandon, a program director in the department of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, had this to say about the results.
The findings are not terribly surprising. Vegetarian and vegan diets are not always healthy and can lack many nutrients. (2)
While plant-based diets are associated with lower body weight, one of the reasons they are so popular, adjusting for BMI did not remove the stubbornly high risk of fractures for those who do not eat meat. In particular, vegans suffered from a higher specific risk for broken legs and hips. (3)
Thus, while eating plant-based may be popular to achieve vegan-skinny status, it is risky to bone health no matter whether a person is vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian. This according to a large-scale, long-term study of 55,000 people published in a peer-reviewed journal!
Could this be one reason for the epidemic of broken bones in adolescent girls in recent years, a growing number of whom avoid meat due to peer pressure and false online messaging? This dramatic case of a vegan girl with brittle bones made widespread headlines.
Since some people avoid meat for environmental reasons, it is important to get the word out that there is a way to eat meat ethically, and in so doing, hit hard against industries that abuse animals and planet Earth in the process. That path involves the support of local, sustainable grassfed family farms!
(1) Vegans, vegetarians and pescetarians may be at higher risk of bone fractures
(2) Vegan Diets Tied to Higher Bone Fracture Risk
Watching YouTube channels like Vegan Deterioration for a few months was enough to convince me that this was a terribly nutrient deficient diet! and the vegan kids and babies are the worst. They have the saddest eyes. Look like starving kids in Africa.
Great article! There’s a huge push for veganism right now and it’s not good. Neither are factory farms, but we buy our meat from a local farmer who raises everything ethically and with the proper diet it should be raised on. The meat is absolutely delicious.
I became a vegetarian at 26, actually a vegan at home and a vegetarian socially. I almost immediately started feeling fatigued, but I stupidly never made the connection. My diet was fresh, local, organic, no caffeine, little alcohol. Thanks to Sarah’s blog I started eating a little meat when I was 58, and over the next three years I found the more meat I ate the better I felt. Now at age 61 I train every weekend for summer backpacking trips in the Sierra, a previously unimaginable activity. Vegetarianism ruined my life, but not forever, thank God and Sarah.
Sarah Pope MGA
Thank you so much for posting your testimonial (and also for the kind words!).
I tried vegetarianism for 3 months and even though I did my best to do it “right”, I always felt like garbage and went right back to my old, if imperfect, omnivorous diet. I like to thank my body for having a pretty quick/tight feedback loop! haha.
Sarah Pope MGA
An imperfect omnivore diet is healthier than a “perfect” vegetarian diet.
Instead of just leaving the research out there, seemingly proving that a vegetarian or vegan diet is unhealthy, how about making recommendations about HOW to make one’s bones stronger on those types of diets. What’s the big push for meat? Too large of a carbon footprint for my environmental concerns.
Sarah Pope MGA
Plant-based diets are inferior and their “benefits” are fabricated and repeated ad nauseaum by a globalist media that is intent on weakening the population and increasing corporate profits with meat substitutes created in a lab. Plant-based diets have SO MANY problems (it’s not just weaker bones) such as reduced fertility, more depression etc. Trying to help plant-based eaters implement an inferior diet “properly” is a complete waste of time. These people should ideally switch to a balanced whole food based diet that includes meat like ancestral humans have done for millennia. If you’re concerned about the environment from CAFOs (you should be!), then buy your meat from family farms that use their grazing animals to help restore the soil and the environment. They are everywhere. You just have to look for them.
Rogier van Vlissingen
This type of a study may have its uses, but there is too much imprecision to be relevant.
First of all, ALL of vegetarians, vegans and pescatarians are not a homogeneous group, and it should be noted that none of these practices have anything to do with nutrition.
A proper whole foods, plant-based diet should be rich and varied enough so there are plenty of sources of calcium and more readily absorbable than from dairy and such… so there should never be a problem. Most vegetarians, vegans and pescatarians do not practice anything resembling good nutrition. Avoiding certain foods does not make for good nutrition.
Sarah Pope MGA
You are missing a KEY point. The meat-eaters in the study aren’t eating a perfect diet either! And, even though the meat eaters may be eating fast food, etc, they STILL have stronger bones more resistant to fracture than those eating a plant based diet.
This is a very large, long-term study … there is no discounting its implications that eating meat results in a more nutritionally balanced diet even if it’s not perfect.