Prevention News – The aptly named Make A Difference Insurance company based in Cheltenham, Australia, is slashing premiums for vegetarians. Meatless members can get up to a 20% discount on their life insurance policies. It might seem crazy, but the company says it’s a smart move for their bottom line, and rooted in research.
“There is growing evidence that suggests vegetarians have a lower risk of serious illnesses,” Make a Difference managing director Brian Jones (who happens to be a vegetarian) told the Melbourne news source Herald Sun. “Life insurance premiums are calculated based on several factors, including family medical history, lifestyle choices such as alcohol and nicotine intake, so surely a vegetarian or vegan diet should be considered, too.”
If a life insurance company is willing to bet on meatless diets, does that mean vegetarians are really healthier? Maybe. “In general, vegetarians are healthier, live longer, and have a lower risk for lots and lots of diseases, like heart disease, cancer, hypertension, stroke, and diabetes,” says Timothy Morley, DO, medical director of Women’s Healthy Hormones, pointing to a study published in JAMA this year and an earlier longitudinal study at Harvard. “The downside is that they need to make sure they get certain nutrients.”
The gap, Dr. Morley explains, has to do with the fact that animal fat from meat, and red meat in particular, increases the risk of heart disease. “The best source of fats is actually from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and oils, like olive oil,” he says.