There will probably be a story in the press this week saying how vegetarians are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety… stories like this make sensational headlines but do not reflect the actual scientific research.
The story comes from a ‘wellbeing’ website that cites some anecdotal evidence from a professor and psychiatrist (who also has a new diet book to sell). The article also refers to research done last year by Australian market research company Roy Morgan Research for healthcare company Alere – this was not published in any peer-reviewed journal.
The report suggested that vegetarians are less optimistic about the future, with 28 per cent more likely to suffer panic attacks and anxiety disorders and reckons they are also 18 per cent more likely to suffer from depression than the general population. Depressing reading!
However, if you look at the peer-reviewed science, it quickly becomes clear that the opposite is true. Just two months ago, a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nutritional Neuroscience found that vegans report less stress and anxiety than omnivores (meat and dairy-eaters). The authors of this study concluded: “A strict plant-based diet does not appear to negatively impact mood, in fact, reduction of animal food intake may have mood benefits”.
Beezhold et al., 2015. Vegans report less stress and anxiety than omnivores. Nutritional Neuroscience. 18 (7) 289-296.
To find out more, read Mood Food by Juliet Gellatley.
Here’s some more evidence…
Good mood food
We all know a veggie diet helps us fight illness and disease, but new research shows that a vegetarian diet can help you beat the blues. The study published in the Nutrition Journal compared 60 vegetarians to 78 meat-eaters and found that the veggies experienced less negative emotions.
Beezhold et al., 2010. Vegetarian diets are associated with healthy mood states: a cross-sectional study in Seventh Day Adventist adults. Nutrition Journal. 9 (1) 26.
And some more…
Fancy a mood boost?
A group of 39 meat-eaters were given various diets and recorded the effects of the diets on the mood of the participants. The three diets they tested were: vegetarian, pescetarian (fish but not meat) and meat and fish. The participants completed questionnaires about their mood, stress and anxiety levels and kept a food diary. Results showed that while mood scores didn’t change for participants on meat-based and fish diets, mood score of participants on the vegetarian diet improved significantly after two weeks.
Beezhold, B.L., Johnston, C.S., 2012. Restriction of meat, fish, and poultry in omnivores improves mood: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Nutrition Journal. 11 (9).