I am 30 years of age and have decided to return to the Adventist Church. Growing up, I heard a lot about the value of a meat-free/ vegetarian lifestyle based on Adventist research. Is there other credible science supporting this lifestyle?
Yes, there is a large body of robust, peer-reviewed health science on the benefits of a plant-based diet that supports the Adventist health message and lifestyle. It’s current and growing by the week.
Research on Adventists, our lifestyle, and our diet is also robust and internationally recognized. This research is consistent with work done in settings other than within the Adventist Church. This information may be useful in guiding varied populations with different cultures and eating habits across the world. This is confirmed by estimates that while 5 percent of adults in the United States endorse vegetarian diets, approximately 38 percent of adults in India (the second most populous country in the world) identify as vegetarian. Large studies are required to show the benefits of various diets, and also the reproducibility of such benefits across different populations, regions, and territories.
Recent studies include data that show that a higher intake of tofu (a condensed soy product) is associated with lower risks of coronary artery disease, related heart attacks, and death.¹ Another large study confirmed that plant-based dietary patterns, especially those emphasizing the use of healthful plant-based sources such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, may be beneficial in the primary prevention of type 2 diabetes.² This benefit is not shown with the predominant use of unhealthful plant-based foods such as refined grains, starches, and sugars, which were consistently associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Yet another large study has shown that changing from animal to plant-based protein sources results in improved longevity; the most marked improvement was noted when switching from red meat and eggs to plant-based protein sources.³
This information is beneficial if we follow it. We often encounter the knowledge-behavior disconnect—we know something to be true, but we don’t practice that habit. For example, most people know that it’s healthy to exercise daily; yet not all of us do it. We have a golden opportunity to learn about and implement coaching skills that will encourage and enable behavior change even virtually on a webinar-type basis. We need support and accountability to ensure healthy changes.
It’s exciting and encouraging that there’s current and sound research confirming the findings of the Adventist Health Studies, and not only regarding nutrition but also the benefits of exercise; adequate sleep and rest; careful exposure to sunshine, fresh air, and pure clean water; trust in God; the practice of gratitude; and strong, supportive, and resilience-building relationships. We are, indeed, blessed to live in a time when science continues to confirm the instructions given in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy.
“Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in His prophets and you will be successful” (2 Chron. 20:20, NIV).
¹ L. Ma, G. Liu, M. Ding, et al., “Isoflavone Intake and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in U.S. Men and Women; Results From Three Prospective Cohort Studies,” Circulation 141 (2020): 1127-1137, doi:10:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.119.041306.
² Frank Qian, Gang Liu, Frank B. Hu, et al., “Association Between Plant-based Dietary Patterns and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes,” JAMA Intern Med. 179, no. 10 (2019): 1335-1344, doi:10.1001/jamainternmed2019.2195, published online July 22, 2019.
³ Jiaqi Huang, Linda M. Liao, Stephanie J. Weinstein, et al., “Association Between Plant and Animal Protein Intake and Overall and Cause-specific Mortality,” JAMA Intern Med., doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.2790, published online July 13, 2020.
Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.
Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, a board-certified internist, is an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.