Thursday, April 30, 2020

Meat Eaters Have Better Mental Health

The Daily Mail has impeccable timing. As President Trump orders meat processing plants to stay open, in the national interest, the London tabloid reports that meat eaters have better mental health than vegetarians.

Eat more meat and you will be less depressed. Eat more vegetables and you will be more likely to take psychiatric medication. Being a vegetarian will also make you more suicidal.

A vegetarian or vegan diet may be increasing the likelihood of depression, a US-based study has found. 

People with a plant-based diet were twice as likely to take prescription drugs for mental illness and nearly three times as likely to contemplate suicide.  

The report, which looked at more than 160,000 people, also found that a shocking one in three vegetarians suffer from depression or anxiety.

The study was reasonably broad based:

Researchers reviewed 18 studies examining the relationship between mental health and eating meat, involving a total of 160,257 participants.

But, you might say, is this about correlation or causation? Might it not be the case that mentally healthy people eat more meat and that depressed people eat more vegetables?

The researchers suggest that avoiding meat may be a 'behavioural marker' indicating people already with poor mental health. 

This is a suggestion that requires more research to back it up, the researchers say.   

University of Alabama researchers write in the study: 'Those who avoided meat consumption had significantly higher rates or risk of depression, anxiety, and/or self-harm behaviours.

'Our study does not support avoiding meat consumption for overall psychological health benefits.'

At the least, the study demonstrates that those who are avoiding meat in order to improve their mental health are making a mistake.

The report concludes:

Dr Edward Archer, from the University of Alabama and one of the study's authors, said: 'While the risks and benefits of vegan and vegetarian diets have been debated for centuries, our results show that meat eaters have better psychological health.

'These findings have implications when defining what constitutes a 'healthy diet'. Mental health may need to be emphasised when evaluating the benefits and risks of particular dietary patterns.'

Echoing the report's findings, Aseem Malhotra, an NHS Consultant Cardiologist, said in a tweet: 'In general, if you want to avoid increased risk of depression, anxiety and self-harm behaviour then do eat meat.

'If you're vegan or vegetarian for ethical reasons, then please personally invest extra in strategies to protect your mental health.'

The study, entitled 'Meat and Mental Health: A systematic review of meat abstention and depression, anxiety and related phenomena', is published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.


whitney said...

This is been common knowledge for me for at least thirty years since I was a young hipster frequenting the vegetarian Co-op and I noticed that all the people that worked and shopped there seemed unhealthy and miserable. And then I spent a number of years working in environmental nonprofits and discovered that they're all crazy to boot!

UbuMaccabee said...

Big brains run on fat. Animal fat.

Whitney is correct, go to any food co-op and look around. Skinny, weak, anemic, malnourished, poorly attired, and stinky.

Somebody let white wimmin' decide our national diet and we all ended up with fat-free yogurt, salads, skinless chicken breasts, fresh fruit and diabetes.

Sam L. said...

Meat: it's what manly men eat! Men and women, too, manly or not.

Christopher B said...

I lean to the behavior marker side. Self-imposed, i.e. not religious or cultural, dietary restrictions represent an attempt to control internal processes.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

They do it because they are excessively sensitive and feel deep guilt about eating an animal. If you told them plants experienced pain, they probably wouldn't eat at all. Their sensitivity and guilt makes normal life impossible. There's no access to joy. Life just sucks. This influences everything -- relationships, politics, vocation, etc. It's an awful way to live.