Sad vegans: Non-meat eaters are more depressed

Brazilian study investigates the relationship between diet and mood

A steak is happiness? This is according to a study conducted by Brazilian researchers and published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. Data show that vegetarians and vegans are twice as likely to be depressed as meat eaters.

The scientists wanted to test whether there was a direct correlation between a meat-free diet and depression among adults. To do so, they studied 14,216 people between 35 and 74 years of age for six months. The data indicated that vegetarians had twice as many depressive episodes as meat eaters during the same period. The inclusion of variables such as smoking, alcohol, physical activity or micronutrient intake did not change the results.

Scientists associate meat consumption with happiness

"Depressive episodes are more frequent in individuals who do not eat meat, regardless of socioeconomic and lifestyle factors," the study notes. It further specifies that "nutrient deficiencies do not explain this association. The nature of the association remains unclear, and longitudinal data is needed to clarify causal relationship.”

This is not the first study to try to relate moods to food. In 2017, several scientists published a paper showing that people with depression who maintained a diet rich in whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy and vegetables improved over those who consumed ultra-processed foods. Along the same lines, in 2019, the correlation between a Mediterranean diet and reduction of depression was discovered.

In general, such studies tend to associate meat consumption with happiness, while a higher intake of vegetables favors better cardiovascular health.