Over the past few decades, studies have increasingly shown the health benefits of a vegetarian diet. Some of these benefits are health related, such as disease prevention, weight loss, and life longevity. Others contribute to lifestyle improvements, like energy enhancement and financial savings. While these benefits will clearly improve your quality of life, they can also have a very strong positive effect on your career.
When an employer looks to advance or promote an employee, they look for certain attributes that indicate successful behavior patterns. The more you possess these qualities, the more eligible you become for career advancement. To assess the potential of a vegetarian diet on your career, we’ll pair each Health or Lifestyle Benefit with a commonly held Employer Benefit and show how it will result in a Career Benefit for you.
With several scientific studies as our basis, we’ll look at how a vegetarian diet can positively impact your career, salary, and life.
Disease Prevention Leads to Better Attendance
Health Benefit: Disease prevention
Employer Benefit: Sick leave reduction, increased productivity, decreased overtime cost
Career Benefit: Better attendance, promotability, career longevity
Most people already love the idea of preventing disease; the healthier you are, the more time you have to enjoy your life. Vegetarian choices have been shown to significantly reduce your susceptibility to disease in several studies.
One study, conducted by the American Dietetic Association in 2003, found that vegetarians have “lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease, lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.”  Another, published in the January 2006 issue of “Life Extension” magazine, adds that meat eaters are more at risk of developing appendicitis, chronic inflammation, gallstones, and kidney disease. 
These findings are great news for your health, but how will lessening your risk for illness improve your career potential?
Your employer’s objective is to finish projects on time and within budget. When an employee takes frequent or extended sick leave, the company’s is hindered. Sick days cause projects to fall behind schedule and add stress to the lives of coworkers who must compensate for lost productivity. This often forces the employer to pay unnecessary overtime, something every employer seeks to avoid.
The more you successfully align your behavior with your employer’s goals, the better your name will sound when it’s time to make a promotion. Maintaining few sick days or zero absenteeism (which sometimes offers an additional bonus) shows a track record of dedication and dependability, two qualities any employer will consider when it’s time to thin the herd or advance the stars.
Weight Loss Leads to Career Opportunity
Health Benefit: Weight loss
Employer Benefit: More presentable
Career Benefit: Client facing opportunities, social respect, more rapid promotability
We all know the benefits of eliminating excess weight: you’ll feel better, have more energy, and enhance your social presentability. Maintaining a vegetarian diet has been shown in several studies to reduce weight and achieve a lower body mass index.
A scientific article published by Nutrition Reviews in 2006 concludes that a vegetarian diet is highly effective for weight loss. While obesity rates in the general populace are at an all time high, obesity prevalence in vegetarians is only 0 percent to 6 percent. As a whole, “the body weight of both male and female vegetarians is, on average, 3 percent to 20 percent lower than that of meat-eaters.”  Another, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, indicates that vegetarians generally have lower average body mass indexes (BMI), and are generally leaner than meat-eaters. 
These effects can have an obvious impact on your physical health, but what kind of effect with losing weight have on your career and salary?
The fact is, when people see that you respect your body, they’re be more likely to have respect for you, too. Whether we like it or not, office politics play a huge role in which employees are pulled up the ladder. When people respect you, they like you, and they’ll want to help you succeed. Many jobs also require interaction with clients, and employers will want to put their best and most presentable person in the field. Enhancing your presentability can create all sorts of new opportunities for career advancement.
Life Longevity Leads to Longer Retirement
Health Benefit: Life longevity
Employer Benefit: Longer career
Career Benefit: Longer career potential, or more time to enjoy retirement
If the benefits of disease prevention and weight loss weren’t enough, this one should be. Several studies have shown that keeping a vegetarian diet can prolong the subject’s lifespan.
A report published by the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” in 2003 examined six different studies to establish relative life longevity of vegetarians. The publication found that “low meat consumption decreases risk of death and increases life expectancy. In fact, research shows that reducing meat consumption can increase your life span by 3.6 years.” The same report conveyed that cultures with plant-based diets were more likely to live beyond 70 years of age.  Another study, which tracked 6,000 vegetarians and 5,000 meat eaters for 12 years, found that “vegetarians were 40 percent less likely to die from cancer during that time and 20 percent less likely to die from other diseases.” 
Given these impressive effects on life longevity, what are the benefits for your career?
Since the main objective of career improvement is to align your behavior with the needs of your employer, we should seek to identify their needs. One of the greatest need of any employer is to reduce costs, and the cost of training new employees a major one. Even upon training completion, newer employees need time to gain experience and make mistakes – mistakes that can cost the company in revenue and liabilities. The longer they can keep you working and happy, the more valuable you’ll be to them, and that value can convert directly to higher earnings. And if you do decide to retire early, a longer lifespan means more time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Energy Enhancement Leads to a Happier Workday
Lifestyle Benefit: Energy enhancement
Employer Benefit: Enhanced productivity
Career Benefit: Improved work ethic, heightened reputation, happier workday
We’re all familiar with that late-afternoon energy lull that washes over the office daily. It makes it hard to push through projects, deal with complex issues, or handle coworkers. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some extra energy to make it through?
One study, published by the Yale Medical Journal found that vegetarians have twice the stamina of meat eaters. To test this, candidates were gathered from three groups: meat-eating athletes, vegetarian athletes, and vegetarian sedentary subjects. The results were impressive. “Of the three groups compared, the meat-eaters showed far less endurance than the vegetarians, even when the latter were leading a sedentary life.” Overall, the average score of the vegetarians was more than double the average for the meat-eaters, despite half the vegetarians being sedentary in nature. 
What does this mean for your career? Just imagine how much more you’d accomplish every day with a significant boost in energy. You’d feel more enthusiastic about projects, more social with coworkers, and more driven to take on responsibility. Positive energy is contagious. You’ll likely elevate the performance of your peers, and your boss will take notice. If that isn’t the perfect storm for career advancement, I’m not sure what is!
Dietary Cost Reduction Leads to Financial Freedom
Lifestyle Benefit: Financial savings
Employer Benefit: None, this one’s for you!
Career Benefit: Financial freedom
If you aren’t motivated by health benefits, life longevity, or a daily increase in energy, then this benefit may be the one you were waiting for. Many of us struggle to find extra spending money, medium-term savings, or retirement money. Studies have shown that eating vegetarian can have a major positive effect on your savings by cutting your food and healthcare expenses.
The cost of a meat-heavy diet isn’t paid in physical health alone. Americans spend 10 percent of their annual food budget on meats. Eating vegetables, grains and fruits in place of the 200 pounds of beef, chicken and fish each nonvegetarian eats annually would cut individual food bills by an average of $4,000 a year.
Another study conducted by the American Dietetic Association found that a veggie-based diet yields lower medical costs compared with non-vegetarian diets. This is because vegetarians are 50% less likely to develop heart disease, 60% less likely to develop cancer, and nine times less likely be obese than meat-eaters.  These diseases may seem far off now, but some day they may because real concerns, and major costs.
If financial freedom is one of your career goals, putting away an extra $4,000 each year is like having a second retirement fund. Making healthy choices now will likely have positive short-term and long-term financial benefits.
How to Create a Vegetarian Diet
Each of the above dietary studies conveys the benefits of a vegetarian diet on health, lifestyle, and thus career. So our next question is, how can we maintain a balanced vegetarian diet? Fortunately, there are plenty of great resources out there who focus on this question thoroughly. A couple of my personal favorites are vegetariantimes.com and herbivoracious.com (recipes). To get an idea of a basic vegetarian dietary breakdown, let’s just check out this handy table:
There’s so much evidence nowadays pointing to the health benefits of consuming less or no meat, and new studies are released every year. As awareness for this evidence has grown, so has the availability of delightful vegetarian options. Local markets, neighborhood restaurants, cookbooks, and online recipe sites now offer vegetarian choices in abundance. With a little dedication, you’ll likely begin experiencing a healthier, longer, more energetic life, and before long, you’ll start to see positive changes in your career, too.
1. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research. Summer 2003, 64(2):62-81
2. “Life Extension” Magazine; “Do Vegetarians Live Longer?”; William Faloon; January 2006
3. Berkow, S. E. and Barnard, N. (2006), Vegetarian Diets and Weight Status. Nutrition Reviews, 64: 175–188
4. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, № 6, 2011
5. “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”; “Does Low Meat Consumption Increase Life Expectancy in Humans?”; Pramil Singh et al.; 2003
6. Appleby et al. 1999, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 70, 525S
7. Fisher, Irving, “The Influence of Flesh Eating on Endurance,”Yale Medical Journal, 13(5):205-221, 1907.
8. Position of the American Dietetic Association. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009