What does mental health and eating meat have in common? According to the Medical University Graz, Austria, it’s quite a bit.
A recently published study found that research subjects who regularly went with the meat option were overall healthier than their vegetarian peers – and happier.
The cross-sectional study observed subjects demographics, lifestyles and dietary habits from an Austrian Health Interview Survey.
“Our study has shown that Austrian adults who consume a vegetarian diet are less healthy (in terms of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), have a lower quality of life, and also require more medical treatment,” says researchers.
Researchers outlined mental health disorders mainly as anxiety and depression.
“Vegetarians in our study suffer significantly more often from anxiety disorder and/or depression. Additionally, they have a poorer quality of life in terms of physical health, social relationships, and environmental factors.”
While the study found vegetarians tend to have lower body mass indexes, be more physically active, drink less and smoke tobacco less frequently than meat-eaters, they were 50 percent more likely to have a heart attack, 50 percent more likely to develop cancer, along with being twice as likely to develop allergies.
“The higher cancer incidence in vegetarians in our study might be a coincidence, and is possibly related to factors other than the general amount of animal fat intake,” says researchers.
Meaning vegetarians are getting less saturated fats and cholesterol associated with animal fat and instead upping their fruit, nuts and vegetable intake. These subjects were also noted for poorer health practices such as not following vaccination programs and taking preventative health care action.
While researchers note the study had some data collection limitations, such as carbohydrate and caloric intake due to participant sample size, they felt their findings were beneficial and well represented.
“We admit that the large number of participants made it necessary to keep the questions simple, in order to cover the large sample” concludes researchers. “Overall, we feel that our results are of specific interest and contribute to extant scientific knowledge, notwithstanding some limitations regarding causes and effects.”