A new study found that vegetarians and vegans might have a higher chance of health complications over meat-eaters as the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates call for people to stop eating meat.
The study — which was published Wednesday by one of the world’s oldest general medical journals, the BMJ (British Medical Journal) — suggests that those who choose not to indulge in eating meat may have a higher chance of having a stroke but lower chances of having coronary heart disease.
It found that vegans and vegetarians have a 20 percent higher chance of having a stroke than people who eat meat, or three or more strokes for every 1,000 people over a decade.
Tammy Tong, the lead researcher and a nutritional epidemiologist at Oxford University — said that when one looks at “the absolute numbers” it appears that the increased risk of having a stroke does not overtake the decreased chance of heart disease by participating in a vegetarian or vegan diet.
“It does seem that the lower risk of coronary heart diseases does exceed the higher risk of stroke, if we look at the absolute numbers,” Tong told CNN, adding that her study was the first to look into stroke risk of non-meat-eaters.
Tong also said it was not clear as to why vegetarians and vegans potentially face a higher risk of stroke but posited that it may be because of “very low cholesterol levels or very low levels of some nutrients.”
“There is some evidence which suggests that very low cholesterol levels might be associated with a slightly higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke,” said Tong. She went on to point out that other research says that deficiency in other nutrients can lead to increased stroke risk.
The study’s release came the same day as CNN’s climate town hall where some of the Democratic presidential candidates called for people to stop eating red meat — or meat altogether — to address climate change.
Harris specifically focused on reducing the amount of red meat consumed by Americans, saying that the “balance” that needed to be struck was between the government incentivizing people to not eat red meat before moving to ban “certain behaviors.”
“The balance that we have to strike here, frankly, is about what government can and should do around creating incentives and then banning certain behaviors,” said the California senator, who went on to toss her support behind “changing the dietary guidelines” of the country after being asked again.
Yang said that humanity was “going to be okay if the vast majority of the world goes vegetarian immediately” while pointing to a U.N. study when asked if Americans should change their dietary habits.
He claimed that it would be beneficial to the environment and Americans if people “eat less meat” before adding that “shap[ing] our system” to promote “productive” evolution was necessary because Americans have a lot of “individual autonomy.”
“But, again, this is a country where there is a lot of individual autonomy and so you can’t force people’s eating choices on them,” said the California businessman. “All do you know is try to shape our system so that over time we evolve in a productive way.”