Studies have found a direct statistical correlation between decreased meat intake and increased health benefits. The chances of developing chronic diseases including high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary heart disease, obesity, kidney failure, osteoporosis and cancer, is markedly decreased among vegetarians and vegans by as much as forty percent. Along with this favorable news, chances for longevity might increase by some twenty percent. Owing to these benefits, health insurance companies commonly offer discount rates to vegetarians and vegans(is this true? :-s ). The British Medical Association (BMA) was first to shed light on the many benefits of a vegetarian diet in a 1986 report. Based on a large volume of research, it concluded that vegetarians not only tend to have lower cholesterol, but also significantly reduced instances of coronary heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, certain types of cancers, gall stones and large intestine disorders. Beginning in 1983, the China study, looked at 6,500 participants over the course of several years, documenting their dietary habits, lifestyles and health. This comprehensive study was a combined effort of the Chinese, United Kingdom and United States. The first results were made public in 1989, and were unequivocal. The less meat consumed, the lower the risk of developing common chronic diseases as noted above. The study also debunked the Western myth of promoting meat as a necessary source of iron. Among the largely vegetarian-based diets of the Chinese, the average vegetarian had twice the iron intake of the average U.S. citizen. The highly respected World Health Organization (WHO) offered their own findings on vegetarian and vegan diets in a 1991 report. WHO not only confirmed the results of the BMA and the China study, but also found that meat and dairy-rich diets promote other diseases as well, including osteoporosis or low bone density, and kidney failure. WHO went so far as to predict the cancer crisis the world now faces, based on the meat-rich dietary trends of Western nations. The report candidly faulted governments for public Dietary Guidelines that promote meat and dairy as necessary foods, urging more vegetarian-based policies where animal products are relegated to optional status. Another organization to weigh in on the matter of vegetarian and vegan diets was the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). This group consists of some 5,000 U.S. doctors, including the editor for The American Journal of Cardiology, William Roberts. Criticized by some as biased for their humane ethics, the PCRM reviewed over 100 published studies from around the world. It confirmed that significantly lower disease rates are directly linked to vegetarian and vegan diets. In their 1995 report, the PCRM urged the U.S. government to update dietary policies to reflect these findings. In 1996, government policies addressed this for the first time, stating that a vegetarian diet is healthy, meets Recommended Daily Allowances, and does not lack protein. About the same time as the previous studies were being conducted, The Oxford study was underway. Gathering data over a period that spanned an excess of 13 years and involved over 11,000 people, it not only confirmed lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other diseases among vegetarians, but also found a 20% decrease in premature mortality rates. Simply put, if you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, you have a 20% better chance of living longer than if you eat meat, according to the study. The positive findings of vegetarian and vegan diets are also echoed by the American Dietetic Association (ADA), which ranks among the list of proponents. The ADA is one of the most highly respected advisory boards worldwide.