Evidence of a vegan diet for health benefits and risks–an umbrella review of meta-analyses of observational and clinical studies

Eliška Selinger, Manuela Neuenschwander, Alina Koller, Jan Gojda, Tilman Kühn, Lukas Schwingshackl, Janett Barbaresko, Sabrina Schlesinger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Abstract

To summarize and evaluate the evidence on the health impact of a vegan diet, we conducted an umbrella review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. PubMed, Cochrane Library, Web of Science and Epistemonikos were searched up to September 2021. Meta-analyses were recalculated by using a random effects model. The certainty of evidence (CoE) was evaluated by the GRADE approach. For the general healthy population, a vegan diet was effective for reducing body weight [MD (95% CI): −2.52 kg (−3.06, −1.98), n = 8 RCTs; moderate CoE] and was associated with further health benefits (with low CoE), including a lower risk of cancer incidence [SRR (95% CI): 0.84 (0.75, 0.95), n = 2] and a trend for lower risk of all-cause mortality [SRR (95% CI): 0.87 (0.75, 1.01), n = 2], as well as lower ApoB levels [MD (95% CI): −0.19 µmol/L (−0.23, −0.15), n = 7 RCTs). The findings suggested adverse associations for a vegan diet with risk of fractures [SRR (95% CI): 1.46 (1.03, 2.07), n = 3; low CoE]. For persons with diabetes or at high CVD risk, a vegan diet reduced measures of adiposity, total cholesterol, LDL and improved glycemic control (CoE moderate to low). A vegan diet may have the potential for the prevention of cardiometabolic health, but it may also impair bone health. More well-conducted primary studies are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Early online date16 May 2022
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 16 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Keywords

  • Health
  • meta-analysis
  • plant-based
  • systematic review
  • umbrella review
  • vegan diet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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