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booze -- it does a body good; vegan drinkers

Good news for barflies! Time reports on new research into alcohol and life expectancy, which not only shows that moderate drinkers live longer, but that even heavy drinkers live longer than total abstainers.

...[A]fter controlling for nearly all imaginable variables — socioeconomic status, level of physical activity, number of close friends, quality of social support and so on — the researchers (a six-member team led by psychologist Charles Holahan of the University of Texas at Austin) found that over a 20-year period, mortality rates were highest for those who had never been drinkers, second-highest for heavy drinkers and lowest for moderate drinkers.

The sample of those who were studied included individuals between ages 55 and 65 who had had any kind of outpatient care in the previous three years. The 1,824 participants were followed for 20 years. One drawback of the sample: a disproportionate number, 63%, were men. Just over 69% of the never-drinkers died during the 20 years, 60% of the heavy drinkers died and only 41% of moderate drinkers died.

A key factor here is that the study accounted for the difference between people who never drank, and those who had problems with the bottle and then quit. It still found that moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial.

The article's abstract can be found at

Since I'm a vegan, people are sometimes surprised to hear that I drink, apparently assuming that I don't want to pollute my precious bodily fluids or something. I'm reminded of a bit by British comedian Alexei Sayle that pointed out that the stuff comes from grains -- if someone offered me a meat martini, I'd certainly have to refuse. And I'm sure someone's invented one. Fermented mare's milk would also be off my list.

And there is the isinglass thing; I go back and forth with being strict about that. (I recently found a page on vegetarian beers, wines, and liquors, which helps.) One can go nuts about animal products that aren't ingredients, but are used in food preparation. Does the use of isinglass or bone char make a food not vegan, even though none is in the final product? Is my salad not vegan if the chef chopped the veggies with a bone-handled knife? What if the kitchen cleaning staff used a feather duster? You can see how this can lead to obsession with some sort of "purity", rather than the promotion of compassion. Not to justify slacking off, but a reminder to keep asking "does this serve the end of promoting compassion and discouraging cruelty", rather than "am I being 'pure' enough?"

But all that into account, there are enough of us vegan drinkers out there to make for a pretty nice recurring social event in several cities, including Baltimore.


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