Veganism or meat diet? The twin brother comparison test

Which diet is healthier? This is the question posed by scientists from King’s College London, who conducted an experiment on twin brothers: one has temporarily become vegan, the other has eaten mainly meat and dairy products.

For twelve weeks, Hugo and Ross Turner played guinea pigs for scientists at King’s College London. The twin brothers, both healthy and athletic, have agreed to change their eating habits: Hugo has gone vegan, while Ross has adopted a diet focused on meat and dairy products. The BBC followed this experiment, whose goal was to document the effects on their bodies.

Which of these two diets is healthier? This is the question that remains unanswered until the end of the video. In the latter, the two brothers share all the effects felt.

Video of xY0GKu-PM58

Hugo and Ross are genetically identical, and throughout the experiment they continued to receive the same daily calorie intake, while following a similar exercise routine. As the days passed, Hugo’s body began to feel the beneficial effects of his vegan diet. He confides to the British channel:

I ate a lot more whole foods, so my sugar needs were much better met during the day. I felt like I had more energy.”

For his part, Ross, who continued to eat meat, made a different observation:

There were days when I was full of energy in the gym and others when I had huge drops in form.

Each organism is unique

As the video explains, “it’s not just how much sugar you eat that matters” but rather “the way your body processes it”. And what precisely interested scientists throughout this experiment was to see how the bodies of these twins reacted to the intake of sugar and fat. Although the study was done on twins, each organism is unique.

In a previous experiment, the Pr Twinning specialist Tim Spector found similar results: “We think there’s an important non-genetic factor in that, that it’s very much dependent on our gut flora.”

Indeed, scientific studies have recently shown that billions of “good germs” live in our intestines. If treated well, they will produce thousands of “chemical components” which should participate in keeping the body in shape. In particular by helping the immune system to fight infections, and by ensuring that the brain does not generate feelings of hunger, stress or depression.

A study of the twins’ microbiota was therefore part of the experiment. His teachings? By sticking to a vegan diet for twelve weeks, Hugo saw “the diversity of [sa] intestinal flora strongly decrease”, while his brother says: “Mine stayed the same, so I was less susceptible to disease.”

The importance of a varied diet

According to specialists, the solution to maintaining a healthy intestinal flora lies in the diversity of the diet: you should eat about thirty different types of plants per week. Foods should also be preferred who own “those chemical components called polyphenols that give them a bright color or a bitter taste”, such as red fruits, lemon, certain seeds, but also products such as coffee, dark chocolate or even red wine. Above all, specifies the scientist, it is necessary to eliminate ultra-processed food.

To sum up, the vegan diet can be considered to be, in some aspects, healthier than the meat diet. But there are different types of vegan diets that can also be unhealthy. Some vegans eat ultra-processed products because they consume “standard recomposed foods”, and particularly cheese or meat substitutes. Choices as harmful to your health as eating processed meat.

Ultimately, Ross and Hugo Turner’s results weren’t that far apart. Hugo’s cholesterol, however, went down on the vegan diet, while Ross’s remained the same.


The BBC website was created in November 1997. In about five years, it has published one and a half million web pages. Based in London, it has regional offices in Glasgow, Belfast and Cardiff, and relays BBC correspondents everywhere


Read more

Leave a Comment