Drum roll... IT DOES! Research shows that vegetarians and vegans live on average 3.6 years longer than meat eaters.
A report published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” found that low meat consumption decreases risk of death and increases life expectancy. The same report showed that societies with plant-based diets are more likely to live past 70 years of age.
A 2012 Harvard School of Public Health study, found that people who eat red and processed meats are much more likely to die from heart disease, diabetes, or cancer. Study participants who ate nuts or other plant-based foods instead of meat had a significantly lower risk of dying young.
Data from six other studies show the lifestyle pattern that includes a very low meat intake is associated with greater longevity.
"Think about it: Vegan foods are cholesterol-free, generally low in saturated fat, and high in fiber, complex carbohydrates, and other essential nutrients. They’re often packed with protein and cancer-fighting phytochemicals, and vegans can easily obtain all the vitamins (including vitamins B12 and D) and minerals (including calcium and iron) that they need.
Meat, eggs, and dairy products, on the other hand, are high in artery-clogging cholesterol, saturated fat, and calories. They don’t contain fiber or various vitamins, and the hormones, toxins, and antibiotics that are often found in animal-based food have been linked to a litany of health problems."- PETA
However, just because someone is vegetarian or vegan doesn't mean they are necessarily healthy. A junk food vegetarian or vegan is a person who regularly consumes highly processed foods which are essentially made in science labs. Oreos, Doritos, Pringles, Lay's potato chips and the list goes on.
Ideally, your diet should consist of mostly whole plant based foods which includes, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, super foods and fermented foods.