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Identical twins go on separate vegan and meat diets for 12 weeks to see how it impacts their bodies

Identical twins go on separate vegan and meat diets for 12 weeks to see how it impacts their bodies

The results might be surprising.

People have been arguing over what the best diet for health really is for as long as we can remember.

But this set of identical twins set out to put the debate to rest with their four-month experiment.

Hugo and Ross Turner are British adventurers who’ve travelled pretty much everywhere you can think of. From the middle east to the polar ice caps of Greenland, these guys have done it all.

To do these kind of intense exhibitions, the twins need to maintain a solid level of fitness and perhaps most importantly, a healthy diet to support their goals.

The explorers share the same genetic material, so they decided to try two starkly different diets, to observe what kind of differences it made to their bodies and their training.

Kings College London carried out the 12-week study, where Hugo ditched the meat for a fully vegan diet, and Ross stuck to his usual diet including meat, dairy and fish.

They both had the same number of calories every day and maintained the same workout routine to isolate the impact of the new diet.


This experiment was the first time Hugo had gone vegan, and he explains it took a hit on his body at first: “the first couple of weeks [he] was really craving meat and dairy and cheese – I love cheese”.

But after a rocky start, Hugo did start to notice the benefits of the plant-based diet coming into effect, explaining “I was eating a lot more wholesome food, which meant that my sugar levels were a lot more satiated during the day.

“I felt like I had more energy”.

While Hugo was experiencing a far more stable level of energy, his meat-eating twin Ross said his gym performance was ‘up and down a little bit more’. Some days Ross felt ‘very energetic’ during his sessions, while experiencing ‘huge lulls’ in others.

It wasn’t all sunshine and plant-based rainbows for Hugo though. Because his diet changed so drastically, cutting out several foods suddenly, the researchers saw his gut bacteria diversity drop ‘severely’, making him more susceptible to picking up illnesses.

Ross’s gut bacteria however, stayed the same as he maintained his usual diet. Helping to maintain a good level of immunity.

BBC Global/YouTube
BBC Global/YouTube

After 12 weeks, the researchers agreed that there were a few minor differences in the diets’ impacts, but they were limited.

Cholesterol levels were one of the main points of difference, where Hugo’s dropped ‘off the scale’ during his vegan stint, Ross’s stayed the same. Hugo’s obesity levels also dropped, while his resistance to type 2 diabetes increased.

Dr Tim Spector from the Department of Twin Research at Kings College London explained: “On average vegans are healthier than meat eaters, but within that there’s a huge range and there are some very unhealthy vegans”. There are plenty of people whose plant-based diets are made up of a lot of ultra-processed meat and cheese substitutes rather than whole foods.

He continued to explain that health isn’t about ‘whether you have meat on your plate or not’, but rather it’s about having a varied diet full of fruits and veggies and less ultra-processed foods.

Let’s talk numbers. At the end of the experiment, Ross had put on 10 pounds of muscle, but also had a 2% increase in body fat.

Alternatively, Hugo ended the experiment losing a little over 2 pounds of fat, and gaining about the same in muscle.

Featured Image Credit: @theturnertwiins/Instagram