Nutrient intakes of almost 72,000 subjects from the Adventist Health Study 2 were analyzed to compare differences between vegetarian and non-vegetarian dietary patterns. All subjects completed a validated food frequency questionnaire and also submitted some demographic and anthropometric data. Results showed that non-vegetarians had the lowest intakes of plant proteins, fiber, beta carotene, and magnesium and highest intakes of saturated, trans, arachidonic, and docosahexaenoic fatty acids compared to those with vegetarian eating patterns. These fatty acids are most commonly linked to heart disease. Although total calorie intake appeared to be similar between vegetarians and non-vegetarians, the average body mass index (BMI) was highest in non-vegetarians and lowest in vegan group. Vegans also had the lowest percentage of people who were obese (9.4 %), while meat-eaters had the highest percentage of people who were obese (33.3%). This study was cross-sectional in nature and does not represent a cause-and-effect relationship.
Reference: Rizzo et al. Nutrition profiles of vegetarian and nonvegetarian dietary patterns. J Acad Nutr Diet. published online August 2013.