High compliance with dietary recommendations in a cohort of meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians, and vegans: results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Oxford study

Nutr Res. 2016 May;36(5):464-77. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2015.12.016. Epub 2016 Jan 6.


The aim of this study was to investigate differences in dietary intakes between 30251 participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Oxford study, comprising 18 244 meat eaters, 4 531 fish eaters, 6 673 vegetarians, and 803 vegans aged 30 to 90 years who completed semiquantitative food frequency questionnaires. We hypothesized that these groups characterized by varying degrees of animal product exclusion have significantly different intakes of many nutrients, with possible implications for dietary adequacy and compliance with population dietary goals. Nutrient intakes were estimated including fortification in foods, but excluding dietary supplements. Dietary supplementation practices were also evaluated. Highly significant differences were found in estimated nutrient intakes between meat eaters and vegans, with fish eaters and vegetarians usually having intermediate values. Meat eaters had the highest energy intakes, followed by fish eaters and vegetarians, whereas vegans had the lowest intakes. Vegans had the highest intakes of polyunsaturated fatty acids, dietary fiber, vitamins C and E, folate, magnesium, iron, and copper. Meat eaters had the highest intake of saturated fatty acids, protein, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, vitamin D, zinc, and iodine. Fish eaters had the highest intakes of calcium and selenium. There were no statistically significant differences in sodium and potassium intakes between dietary groups. With the exception of sodium intake, compliance with population dietary goals was high across diet groups. The results suggested a high prevalence of inadequacy for dietary vitamin B12 and iodine in vegans. The diet groups under study showed striking differences in dietary intakes, with possible implications for compliance with dietary recommendations, as well as cardiometabolic diseases risk.

Keywords: Cross-sectional study; Nutrients; Nutrition assessment; Risk assessment; Vegan; Vegetarian.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Diet Records
  • Diet*
  • Diet, Vegan
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Energy Intake
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Fishes*
  • Humans
  • Iodine / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Meat*
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Vitamin B 12 / administration & dosage


  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Micronutrients
  • Iodine
  • Vitamin B 12