Vegans report less bothersome vasomotor and physical menopausal symptoms than omnivores

Maturitas. 2018 Jun;112:12-17. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2018.03.009. Epub 2018 Mar 14.


Objectives: Lifestyle modifications that may reduce menopausal symptoms have generated much interest. The vegetarian diet has been associated with a lower risk of chronic disease as well as a more healthy hormonal milieu. Our objective in this cross-sectional study was to survey peri- and postmenopausal women to investigate menopausal symptoms and dietary pattern.

Study design: Survey distribution in 2015-2016 was aimed at female vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores between the ages of 45 and 80 years, who were active on senior and vegetarian social networking websites and at vegan restaurants and events.

Main outcome measures: We investigated vasomotor and physical symptoms as measured by the Menopause-specific Quality of Life Questionnaire (MENQOL) and dietary pattern classified by animal protein intakes reported in response to food frequency questions.

Results: Out of 754 participants who completed the survey, 604 reported they were perimenopausal (n = 121) or postmenopausal (n = 483), of whom 539 also completed the food frequency questions. We compared vasomotor and physical symptoms in omnivores (n = 304, consumed meat and/or poultry at least monthly) and vegans (n = 125, abstained from all animal proteins) using general linear models; covariates included age, exercise, hormone replacement therapy, presence of reproductive organs, and age at menopause. Among perimenopausal women, vegans reported less bothersome vasomotor (p < 0.01) and physical symptoms (p < 0.01) than omnivores. For both symptom types, more vegetables and less flesh food were associated with less bothersome symptoms (p values < 0.05).

Conclusion: Eating a plant-based diet may be helpful for women in menopausal transition who prefer a natural means to manage their symptoms.

Keywords: Menopausal symptoms; Menopause; Omnivore diet; Perimenopause; Vasomotor symptoms; Vegan diet.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Diet, Vegan*
  • Female
  • Hot Flashes / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Meat
  • Middle Aged
  • Perimenopause / physiology*
  • Postmenopause / physiology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweating / physiology*
  • Vasomotor System / physiopathology*