Meat-Free Eaters Less Likely To Catch Covid-19, Study Suggests

The research indicates being vegan may lower Covid-19 risk


2 Minutes Read

A healthy bowl of vegan food, which may help people lower Covid-19 risk Eating vegan food might help lower Covid-19 risk - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

A recent study by the University of Sao Paulo has indicated that being vegan may lower risk of catching Covid-19.

According to the researchers, those on a meat-free diet were 39 percent less likely to contract the virus.

The research involved more than 700 participants with diverse dietary habits. It was carried out in summer 2022 and published last week in the journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health.

Cases of Covid-19 are rising again at the start of 2024. In the US and UK, an infectious new variant is spreading as immunity wanes.

Meat-eaters more likely to catch Covid-19

A Covid-19 patient
Adobe Stock Eating meat could see Covid-19 risk rise

The study categorized participants into different diet groups. There were 424 omnivores, 191 vegetarians or vegans, and 87 flexitarians who consumed meat no more than three times a week.

Some 47 percent of all participants contracted Covid-19. However, this rate increased to 52 percent for meat-eaters and decreased to 40 percent for vegetarians and vegans.

Moreover, the results also showed that omnivores had a higher likelihood of experiencing severe infections.

Adjusting for factors like Body Mass Index (BMI), physical activity, and pre-existing medical conditions, the researchers found that individuals on a plant-based diet were 39 percent less likely to contract the virus.

Why might vegans be less prone to Covid-19?

The study authors hypothesize that this protective effect might be due to the immune-boosting compounds in a plant-based diet. For example, plant-based diets include more antioxidants and polyphenols. A recent study of twins, for example, revealed the stark difference that even eight weeks as a vegan can have on health outcomes.

Some voiced skepticism about the extent of the link highlighted in the new study, however. Dr. Duane Mellor, Senior Lecturer at Aston Medical School, voiced concerns about the study’s sample size. She said this could lead to erroneous associations.

A six-country study in 2020 drew similar conclusions from a larger sample size. In that study, researchers found that individuals following plant-based diets were 73 percent less likely to develop moderate-to-severe Covid-19 than the general population.

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