People interested in their developmental path or that of their kids sometimes ask, “Do vegans grow taller?” It’s a valid question. Being taller is helpful in life. Also, if you’re a man and interested in attraction to the opposite sex, then it makes you more datable as well. There are different factors connected to why people grow and to what extent they do. It’s not all down to diet, so let us explore that.
What Makes People Taller Than Others?
Different factors play into how tall you or your kids eventually become.
Just like how some people have fast-twitch muscles ideal for NASCAR racing or greater cardiovascular capacity which helps with long-distance running, some of it is all about genetics.
People can use genetics as a catch-all to escape responsibility for things though, so we should also tell you that diet plays an important role too.
Then there are environmental and other factors too.
Genetics – the DNA of a person – plays a major role in how tall you (or a child) will become.
Put simply, if one or both of your parents were on the taller side, there are pretty good odds that you will be too. Some studies indicate that 80% of a person’s height is predicted by DNA.
Growth continues usually until eighteen years of age.
Children do have growth spurts where they can grow a foot in a relatively short period.
As such, they can “catch up” with their school friends in the height stakes by being a late developer. Late developers aren’t necessarily going to end up shorter either.
Adult vegans older than 18 have already stopped growing taller, so a switch to veganism at that age won’t help either way.
With that said, you do sometimes see anomalies in the height game. One son might be significantly shorter and the other unusually taller.
Therefore, genetics is a strong predictor, but you don’t always get what you expect.
Diet plays a part in development, but often it drags down a child’s eventual height rather than the other way around.
Therefore, a poor or nutritionally inferior diet may reduce the height that they would have attained by age 18. This is sometimes referred to as stunted growth.
Consuming a varied, balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, some fats, and high-quality protein is vitally important.
It needs to contain enough macro and micronutrients, amino acids, and vitamins to supply to a growing body. Without them, there is a growing body of evidence that it impacts developmental paths.
If looking for a global example, the average height of people in Korea versus those in North Korea where access to dairy and meat is more limited is significantly taller.
Environmental and Health Factors
Environmental, health, and other factors can be impactful too.
Living in an environment with poor air quality can stunt growth. Environments, where there is a high, continual level of stress or anxiety, have been shown to slow developmental growth in children too.
A disruptive household that reduces a child’s sleep can reduce their growth, including height attained, too.
Hormonal diseases, including thyroid issues or early onset diabetes, may stunt growth.
Insufficient estrogen or testosterone will do too.
All may impact bone growth that would usually occur.
Also, there are potential genetic disorders that alter normal developmental progression, such as Down Syndrome.
Do Vegans Grow Taller? [What The Studies Say]
There have been various studies over the years on different diets and whether they played a role in developmental factors including height attained.
A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on children eating a vegan diet indicated they grew by 3cm less compared to omnivore meat eaters.
Their mineral density was also a few percentage points lower too.
Not so much of a concern at the time, but later in life when density declines as a senior, it can make bones more fragile.
A 1991 study based on research data in 1765 found that for Caucasian children, vegetarians grew at least 2cm taller on average compared to meat eaters.
The lower meat quality of the 1700s era may have impacted results.
Another study in 2004 looked into children who drank cow’s milk versus those that did not and whether this affected their height.
Several centimeters were gained for the cow’s milk drinkers compared to those who did not or consumed less. This parallels a Japanese study in 1984 that confirmed similar results.
Therefore, the idea that vegans grow taller is a myth.
Some studies on the vegan child have shown that they grow later but reach a similar height to children on omnivore, meaty diets.
However, other studies have shown cause for concern with growth patterns for vegan children who may lack the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to grow sufficiently by age 18, when bones no longer lengthen.
Furthermore, even supplementation as a child vegan may not be readily accepted into the body and reach the necessary areas.
This won’t likely be known until too late; especially as vegan children often have later growth cycles.
Ultimately, veganism in children is risky and problematic. For more on the vegan diet for children, check out this article.
To an extent, it is parents instilling their dietary approach in their children. Sometimes, to the child’s detriment.
Summary: Do Vegans Grow Taller?
While cooking vegan and non-vegan meals might be more time-consuming and even unpalatable to vegan parents, the risks of not doing so should not be entirely discounted. Rather than vegans growing taller, the evidence from scientific, peer-reviewed published studies suggests far greater risks of reduced growth and lower bone mineral density too. It may not matter when becoming an adult vegan, but for children, it’s cause for serious concern.