There’s even a difference among vegetarians. Those who have followed the diet for 17 years or more are likely to live for 3.6 years longer than a short-term vegetarian.
But the biggest impact on longevity is eating red and processed meat every day, say researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona.
There are similar variances among meat eaters. Those who ate meat only occasionally—as opposed to every day—saw their mortality risk drop by as much as 50 per cent.
And one study quoted by the Mayo researchers concluded that the real risk was with processed meats, such as bacon, sausages, salami, hot dogs and ham. Another added red meat to the list.
Whatever the actual risk—and there are many other factors at play—the take-home message is one that is already well-known: eat less meat and eat more vegetables and fruit.