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Vegetarians More Likely To Be Depressed Than Meat-Eaters – Here’s the Science Behind It

According to a new study, meat-eaters are less likely to be depressed compared to vegetarians.

According to a new study, vegetarians have around twice as many depressive episodes as meat-eaters.

The study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, is based on survey data from Brazil. It chimes with previous research that found higher rates of depression among those who do not eat meat. However, the new study indicates that this link exists independent of nutritional intake.


According to a Gallup poll, about 5% of the U.S. population considers themselves vegetarian. Women are about 50% more likely to be vegetarian than men. People who consider themselves liberal are far more likely to be vegetarian than conservatives or moderates.

It may seem straightforward to look at an association between a diet and specific health problems and assume that the former is causing the latter via some form of nutritional deficiency.

However, the new analysis took into account a wide range of nutritional factors, including total calorie intake, protein intake, micronutrient intake, and the level of food processing. This suggests that the higher rates of depression among vegetarians are not caused by the nutritional content of their diet.

So what might explain the link between vegetarianism and depression? Is there some non-nutritional mechanism that makes the former cause the latter? Or is the relationship down to something else entirely?

There are multiple possible reasons why there is a link between vegetarianism and depression.

First, it is possible that being depressed causes people to be more likely to become vegetarian rather than the other way around. The symptoms of depression can include rumination on negative thoughts, as well as feelings of guilt.

Assuming that depressed and non-depressed people are equally likely to encounter the upsetting truth of slaughterhouses and factory farming, it is possible that depressed people are more likely to ruminate on those thoughts, and more likely to feel guilty for their part in creating the demand.

The depressed vegetarian, in this case, is not necessarily wrong to think this way. While depression is sometimes characterized as having unrealistically negative perceptions, there is evidence to suggest that people with mild to moderate depression have more realistic judgments about the outcome of uncertain events and more realistic perceptions of their own roles and abilities.

In this case, there really is cruel treatment of animals in meat production. And this really is caused by consumer demand for cheap meat.

Source: SciTechDaily