Comparison of Major Protein-Source Foods and Other Food Groups in Meat-Eaters and Non-Meat-Eaters in the EPIC-Oxford Cohort

Nutrients. 2019 Apr 11;11(4):824. doi: 10.3390/nu11040824.


Differences in health outcomes between meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters might relate to differences in dietary intakes between these diet groups. We assessed intakes of major protein-source foods and other food groups in six groups of meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Oxford study. The data were from 30,239 participants who answered questions regarding their consumption of meat, fish, dairy or eggs and completed a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) in 2010. Participants were categorized as regular meat-eaters, low meat-eaters, poultry-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans. FFQ foods were categorized into 45 food groups and analysis of variance was used to test for differences between age-adjusted mean intakes of each food group by diet group. Regular meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans, respectively, consumed about a third, quarter and a fifth of their total energy intake from high protein-source foods. Compared with regular meat-eaters, low and non-meat-eaters consumed higher amounts of high-protein meat alternatives (soy, legumes, pulses, nuts, seeds) and other plant-based foods (whole grains, vegetables, fruits) and lower amounts of refined grains, fried foods, alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverages. These findings provide insight into potential nutritional explanations for differences in health outcomes between diet groups.

Keywords: cohort; diet; food intake; low-meat; vegans; vegetarians.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Dairy Products
  • Diet
  • Diet, Vegan
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Educational Status
  • Eggs
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Fishes
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meat*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Plant Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Poultry
  • Prospective Studies
  • Social Class
  • United Kingdom


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Plant Proteins