By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Could it be that vegetarianism, which studies show helps people maintain a healthy weight, is the secret behind Paul and Ringo’s vigor?

Watching them at the Grammy tribute honoring the Beatles 50 years after their American debut on the Ed Sullivan Show, it was obvious that both Paul McCartney, 71, and Ringo Starr, 73, have taken good care of themselves. (Though we’re not privy to their triglyceride counts, they are both still performing and appear lean and light on their feet, especially compared with some of their peers.)

We weren’t the only ones noticing.

When Variety editor Steve Chagollan recently asked Ringo about his septuagenarian spunkiness, the world’s best-known drummer credited vegetarianism and daily workouts.

Ringo’s been vegetarian for awhile apparently, but his diet is not as well-documented as that of Paul, who’s been a vegetarian and outspoken animal rights activist for decades, and has supported groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), ever on the look out for ways to showcase plant-based diets, is another group that was gently weeping with gratitude this week for being able to link vegetarianism with the beloved Beatles.

PCRM honored the musicians’ 50th anniversary — the show “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles” aired Sunday — by highlighting Beatley recipes.

Actually, PCRM mostly renamed some standbys, like Sergeant Pepper Red Pepper Hummus , “Yellow Submarine” Split Pea and Potato Soup (thanks Whole Foods Markets) and Strawberry Fields Forever Strawberry Sauce.

Hokey, yes. But not a bad thing. The list makes the point that there are plenty of yummy veggie foods. And studies are fairly definitive that a plant-based diet confers several health benefits, increasing one’s intake of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Studies also show that vegetarians and vegans have an edge when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, which de facto reduces one’s risk of diabetes and other chronic ailments. Got bad knees? Not Paul and Ringo.

The research is less clear when it comes to blaming meat consumption for raising the risk of heart disease, strokes and cancers. Many studies have found exactly that. But linking meat-eating outright to poor health outcomes is controversial, and other studies exonerate meat.

Some recent research, trying to tease out why meat seems associated with heart- and cancer-related health risks, has found that processed meats could be the bigger culprit, as opposed to meat in general.

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