Going meat-free is great for your body. Vegetarians and vegans consume less saturated fat than meat-eaters, while also getting a higher dose of vital vitamins C and E. However, it might not be so great for your mind.
According to a study conducted by Bristol University, vegetarians and vegans are almost twice as likely to suffer from depression compared to those who eat meat.
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The study, which looked at 10,000 people, found that the 350 participants who were committed to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle had significantly higher depression scores.
The link between a vegetarian diet and depression
There has been plenty of research into vegan and vegetarian diets which find that both can be extremely healthy.
However, this is only the case if you continue to get the correct balance of vital nutrients. If you don’t replace nutrients found in meat with an alternative source, your diet could end up causing more harm than good.
The Bristol University study supports this. Researchers found that 50 percent of those following a vegan diet had a vitamin B12 deficiency, as did seven percent of vegetarians.
B vitamins play a huge role in the production of brain chemicals.
As a result, low levels of vitamin B have been linked to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
According to Patrick Skerrett, former editor of Harvard Health:
A severe vitamin B deficiency can lead to deep depression, paranoia and delusions, memory loss, incontinence, loss of taste and smell, and more.
Only animal products naturally contain vitamin B12. Meat, milk and eggs are all sources of the micro-nutrient. For vegetarians and vegans, B12 supplements are necessary to stop a deficiency from developing.
Likewise, nut heavy diets can also lead to excessive amounts of omega-6. Omega fatty acids are generally beneficial to our health. Although, too much omega-6 has been linked with heart disease, cancer and depression.
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Fear not. It is possible to stay meat-free and perfect happy.
B12 is available in supplement form. Likewise, B12 fortified foods, where micronutrients are added to foods where they aren’t usually, have been created. These generally come in cereal, milk and oil form.