New Study Shows Vegans & Vegetarians Are Depressed Twice As Often As Meat Eaters
Vegetarians experience depressive episodes twice as frequently as meat eaters, according to a new study by Brazilian researchers published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
There’s a “positive association between the prevalence of depressive episodes and a meatless diet,” the study read.
Scientists set out to investigate the potential association between a meatless diet and depression among adults, surveying 14,216 participants aged 35 to 74 years over six months. They were evaluated using the Clinical Interview Schedule-Revised instrument, a tool used to diagnose common mental health disorders.
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Vegetarians were found to have double the number of depressive episodes as meat eaters during the same period, even when variables such as smoking, alcohol intake, physical activity and micronutrient intake were taken into account. “Depressive episodes are more prevalent in individuals who do not eat meat, independently of socioeconomic and lifestyle factors,” the study concluded. “Nutrient deficiencies do not explain this association. The nature of the association remains unclear, and longitudinal data are needed to clarify causal relationship.”
A number of other studies suggest a distinct correlation between mood and food. In 2017, researchers looked at the diets of folks with major depressive symptoms and found that people with depression who followed a diet high in whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy and plant foods were four times more likely to be in remission than those who ate ultra-processed foods. Another study, published in 2019, found a correlation between a Mediterranean diet with fish oil supplements and reduced depression.
While eating animal proteins may be associated with happiness, plant-based diets have long been associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
“For heart health protection, your diet needs to focus on the quality of plant foods,” Ambika Satija of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said in a separate report, according to Harvard Health Publishing. But that doesn’t mean you need to completely give up steak and and chicken wings.
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