Not eating meat and fish weakens the bones, a study of 50,000 people over 20 years has found.
Non flesh eaters were prone to osteoporosis – leaving sufferers prone to hip, leg, and spine fractures.
They had a lower calcium and protein intake.
Vegans were also 43 per cent more likely to have fractures anywhere in the body.
It’s thought there are 600,000 vegans in Britain.
Dr Tammy Tong, the study lead author, and a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of Oxford, said:
“The biggest differences were for hip fractures, where the risk in vegans was 2.3 times higher than in people who ate meat – equivalent to 15 more cases per 1,000 people over 10 years.”
Of the study’s 50,000 participants 29,400 ate meat, 17,500 were vegetarians or vegans, and more than 8,000 ate only fish.
Three-quarters of the people were women.
Dr Tong said:
“We found vegans had a higher risk of total fractures which resulted in close to 20 more cases per 1000 people over a 10-year period compared to people who ate meat.
“Vegetarians and vegans generally have lower BMI than meat eaters.
“This is associated with a higher risk of hip fractures, and low intakes of calcium and protein have both been linked to poorer bone health.
“Well-balanced and predominantly plant-based diets can result in improved nutrient levels and have been linked to lower risks of diseases including heart disease and diabetes.
“Individuals should take into account the benefits and risks of their diet, and ensure they have adequate levels of calcium and protein and also maintain a healthy BMI, that is, neither under nor overweight.”