Seventh-Day Adventist Diet: a Complete Guide

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

The Seventh-day Adventist diet is a way of eating created and followed by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

It’s characterized by wholeness and health and promotes vegetarianism and eating kosher foods, as well as avoiding meats that the Bible deems to be “unclean.”

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This article tells you everything you need to know about the Seventh-day Adventist diet, including its benefits, potential downsides, foods to eat and avoid, and a sample meal plan.

What is the Seventh-day Adventist diet?

Members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church have promoted variations of the Seventh-day Adventist diet since the church’s inception in 1863. They believe that their bodies are holy temples and should be fed the healthiest foods (1, 2).

The dietary pattern is based on the biblical Book of Leviticus. It emphasizes whole plant foods, such as legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains, and discourages the consumption of animal products as much as possible (1, 2, 3).

There are several variations of this diet. Approximately 40% of Adventists follow a plant-based diet.

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Some Adventists are vegan, excluding all animal products from their diets. Others follow vegetarian diets that include eggs, low-fat dairy, and fish. Others choose to eat certain meats and additional animal products (4).

The Seventh-day Adventist diet discourages using products that the Bible considers “unclean,” like alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. Some Adventists also avoid refined foods, sweeteners, and caffeine (1).

Some Seventh-day Adventists eat ‘clean’ meats

Seventh-day Adventists who eat meat distinguish between “clean” and “unclean” types, as defined by the biblical Book of Leviticus.

Pork, rabbit, and shellfish are considered “unclean” and thus banned by Adventists. However, some Adventists choose to eat certain “clean” meats, such as fish, poultry, and red meats other than pork, as well as other animal products like eggs and low-fat dairy (5).

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“Clean” meats are generally considered to be the same as kosher meats. Kosher meat must be slaughtered and prepared in a way that makes it “fit for consumption” according to Jewish dietary laws (6).

The Seventh-day Adventist diet was created by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It’s typically a plant-based diet that discourages eating most animal products, as well as foods, beverages, and substances deemed to be “unclean” in the Bible.

Health benefits

The Seventh-day Adventist diet has many proven health benefits, especially when you follow a more plant-centric version.

May decrease disease risk and improve health

Seventh-day Adventists have been the subject of many studies on health. One of the most well known is The Adventist Health Study (AHS-2), which involved more than 96,000 Adventists and looked for links between diet, disease, and lifestyle.

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The AHS-2 found that those who followed a vegetarian diet had a significantly lower risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar — all of which are strong risk factors for heart disease and early death (7, 8, 9, 10).

Additionally, Adventists who followed vegetarian diets were found to have a decreased risk of colon cancer, compared with non-vegetarians (11).

May support healthy weight loss and maintenance

Research shows that whole foods and plant-based diets that include little to no animal products help support a healthy weight compared with diets that include more animal products (12, 13).

A study including over 60,000 adults who participated in the AHS-2 found that those who followed a vegan diet had the lowest body mass index (BMI), compared with vegetarians and meat eaters. Average BMI was higher among those who ate more animal products (8).

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Additionally, a review of 12 studies including 1,151 people found that those who were assigned a vegetarian diet lost much more weight than those assigned a non- vegetarian diet. Those assigned a vegan diet experienced the most weight loss (13).

May increase lifespan

Blue zones are areas around the world in which the population is known to live longer than average. Many people who live in blue zones live to be at least 100 years old (14).

The blue zones include Okinawa, Japan; Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. The fifth-known blue zone is Loma Linda, California, which is home to a large number of Seventh-day Adventists (14).

The long lifespan of blue zone populations is thought to be related to lifestyle factors, such as being active, resting regularly, and eating a nutritious diet rich in plant foods.

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Research on the blue zones found that 95% of people who lived to be at least 100 ate a plant-based diet that was rich in beans and whole grains. What’s more, it was shown that the Loma Linda Adventists outlive other Americans by about a decade (14).

Additionally, studies have found that vegetarian Adventists live 1.5–2.4 years longer than non-vegetarian Adventists, on average (15).

What’s more, a large body of evidence demonstrates that diets based on whole plant foods can help prevent early death, largely due to their ability to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers (16, 17).

Many Adventists eat a vegetarian diet and have been found to live significantly longer than the average person — often to more than 100 years old. Plant-based diets are well known to lower your risk for early death from disease.

Potential downsides

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Although the Seventh-day Adventist diet has many health benefits, it’s important to make sure the foods you eat meet your nutrient needs.

People who follow plant-based diets that entirely exclude animal products are at a higher risk of nutrient deficiency for vitamins D and B12, omega-3 fats, iron, iodine, zinc, and calcium (18, 19, 20).

As such, the Adventist church recognizes the importance of eating a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods and including an adequate source of vitamin B12. Good sources include B12-fortified nondairy milks, cereals, nutritional yeast, or a B12 supplement (21, 22).

If you are following a strict plant-based diet, you may want to consider taking a multivitamin, or individual vitamin and mineral supplements to meet your nutrient needs.

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Regardless, eating a wide variety of nutritious, whole plant foods is important. Foods such as dark leafy greens, tofu, iodized salt, sea vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fortified grains and plant milks are packed with many of the nutrients mentioned above (19, 23).

The Seventh-day Adventist diet has many health benefits, but special attention should be paid to your intake of nutrients like vitamins D and B12, omega-3 fats, iron, iodine, zinc, and calcium if you’re following a strictly plant-based version of the diet.

Foods to eat

The Seventh-day Adventist diet is primarily plant based, meaning that it encourages eating plant foods and restricting or eliminating animal products.

Some of the foods eaten on the Seventh-day Adventist diet include:

  • Fruits: bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, berries, peaches, pineapple, mango
  • Vegetables: dark leafy greens, broccoli, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, parsnips
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, cashews, walnuts, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds
  • Legumes: beans, lentils, peanuts, peas
  • Grains: quinoa, rice, amaranth, barley, oats
  • Plant- based proteins: tofu, tempeh, edamame, seitan
  • Eggs: optional, and should be eaten in moderation
  • Low-fat dairy: optional, may include low-fat dairy products like cheese, butter, milk, and ice cream, and should be eaten in moderation
  • “Clean” meats and fish: optional, includes salmon, beef, or chicken, and should be eaten in moderation
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The Seventh-day Adventist diet promotes a wide variety of whole plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains. If eggs, meat, or dairy products are incorporated, they should be low-fat versions and consumed in moderation.

Foods to avoid

The Seventh-day Adventist diet promotes the consumption of plant foods and discourages eating animal products.

While several variations of the Seventh-day Adventist diet exist, including some that allow low-fat dairy and “clean” meats, most followers typically exclude the following foods:

  • “Unclean” meats: pork, shellfish, rabbit
  • High-fat dairy: full-fat cow’s milk and full-fat dairy products like yogurt, cheese, ice cream, sour cream, and butter
  • Caffeine: caffeinated energy drinks, soda, coffee, and tea

The Seventh-day Adventist diet also strongly discourages the use of alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and illegal drugs.

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Though most Seventh-day Adventists follow a strictly plant-based diet, some may choose to consume small amounts of certain animal products. However, “unclean” meats like pork and shellfish are prohibited.

Three-day sample menu

Here is a sample three-day meal plan featuring some of the healthy foods that can be eaten on a Seventh-day Adventist diet. It includes “clean” animal products.

Day 3

The above three-day sample meal plan is mostly plant based and offers ideas for nutritious foods that fit on a Seventh-day Adventist diet. You can adjust it according to your preferences, adding in low-fat dairy, eggs, or “clean” meats in moderation.

The bottom line

The Seventh-day Adventist diet is a plant-based diet that’s rich in whole foods and excludes most animal products, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages.

However, some followers choose to incorporate some low-fat dairy products, eggs, and low amounts of certain “clean” meats or fish.

Many health benefits are associated with this way of eating. In fact, research has shown that plant-based Adventists often experience a lower risk of many chronic diseases, and many people who follow the Seventh-day Adventist diet also enjoy a longer life.


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