Vegans are less likely to catch COVID – study

Science and Health

Vegans and vegetarians may be 39% less likely to catch COVID-19, according to a recent study published in BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health.

According to researchers, plant-based diets, which emphasize the consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables, and plant-based proteins while avoiding meat and dairy, may offer numerous nutritional benefits. 

Previous studies have also indicated that diet plays a significant role in both the likelihood of catching COVID-19 and the infection’s severity. To further explore this connection, Brazilian researchers investigated the influence of dietary patterns on COVID-19 prevalence, severity, and duration among 702 elderly volunteers. Participants were questioned about their typical diets, lifestyle, medical history, and COVID-19 vaccination status.

Are vegans less likely to catch COVID-19?

The volunteers were divided into two dietary groups: omnivores (424 participants) and those who subscribe to plant-based diets (278 participants). Within the plant-based group, there were flexitarians or semi-vegetarians who ate meat no more than three times a week (87 participants), as well as vegetarians, including vegans (191 participants).

While there were no significant differences in gender, age, or vaccination rates between the two groups, a higher proportion of vegetarians had a higher level of education. The omnivorous group reported more medical conditions, lower physical activity levels, and a higher prevalence of overweight or obesity – factors associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 infection.

J17 Vegan Home Kitchen (credit: DAVID DEUTSCH)

Out of all participants, 330 (47%) reported contracting COVID-19. Among them, 224 (32%) experienced mild symptoms, and 106 (15%) suffered from moderate to severe symptoms. The prevalence of COVID-19 was significantly higher in the omnivorous group (52%) compared to the vegetarian groups (40%), and the omnivores were more prone to moderate or severe infections. However, there was no difference in the duration of symptoms between the two groups.


After adjusting for factors such as weight, existing medical conditions, and physical activity levels, the researchers did not find an overall difference in the severity of symptoms between the two diet groups. However, those following a primarily plant-based, vegetarian, or vegan diet had a 39% lower chance of infection compared to their omnivorous counterparts.

The researchers believe that a plant-based diet may provide more nutrients that strengthen the immune system and exhibit direct antiviral properties. However, they caution that further rigorous research is needed before definitive conclusions can be drawn about the impact of specific dietary patterns on COVID-19 infection risk.