Vegetarian Diet Linked To Depressive Episodes In Adults, Per New Study

Plant-based diets have been all the rage lately and we're told by multiple experts, documentaries, and celebrities that it's better for our health and environment to go vegan. But a recent study from Brazil suggests otherwise. Abstaining from meat can actually worsen mental health.

By Gina Florio2 min read
vegetarian diets

The vegan diet may be touted as a healthy alternative to animal products like meat, eggs, and dairy, but more and more research is coming out to show that a meatless diet isn't exactly the best thing for health and longevity. After Robert Downey, Jr. switched to a vegan diet, fans couldn't help but notice that he looks sick, emaciated, and not at all like himself. There are also many stories of transformation featuring everyday women or celebrities, like Miley Cyrus, who used to be plant-based and end up feeling and looking much better after they switched back to eating meat. It turns out there is research from Brazil confirming their experience.

Vegetarian Diet Linked to Depressive Episodes in Adults, Per New Study

More than 14,000 Brazilians between the ages 35 and 74 participated in a study that tracked their diet and their experience with depressive episodes. Researchers used something called the Clinical Interview Schedule-Revised (CIS-R) to assess these depressive episodes. The results were adjusted for variables including socioeconomic status, smoking and drinking alcohol, frequency of exercise, body mass index (BMI), nutrient intake, energy intake, and any changes in the diet in the 6 months leading up to the study.

Even with all of these variables accounted for, research found a "positive association between the prevalence of depressive episodes and a meatless diet." Individuals who abstained from meat experienced roughly twice as many depressive episodes compared to the people who ate meat regularly. This was independent of "socioeconomic and lifestyle factors." The study also found that "nutrient deficiencies do not explain this association" and the "nature of the association remains unclear."

It's estimated that roughly 4.5% of the world's population suffers from depression, but Brazil has a higher amount of people who struggle with clinical depression. About 11.5 million people in Brazil are depressed, which comes out to about 6%. According to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD), there were 172 million cases of depression in 1990 around the world, and that number rose to 258. million in 2017, which shows a 50% increase.

Of course there are many factors that are at play when it comes to rates of depression, but diet certainly has a role in the equation. The study also references previous research showing that a vegetarian diet increased rates of anxiety and depression in Chinese students attending university, and another study found that men who ate a vegetarian diet had higher depression scores than those who ate meat. There still needs to be more research done, but much of the data points to a correlation between mental health issues and the vegan diet.

This isn't to say that everyone who eats a vegetarian diet will automatically experience depression, but it's a correlation that is worth exploring and discussing. Public health organizations and government officials have been pushing the vegan diet for some time now, telling us that it's much better for the environment to abstain from meat, butter, and eggs. Furthermore, we've been told that it's better for our health to be vegetarian or vegan. But we know that we've been lied to by health organizations about the supposed danger of saturated fat and its connection to heart disease. This turned out to be a fabrication that was promoted and pushed by junk-food corporations such as Procter & Gamble in order to encourage the manufacture and sale of their vegetable oils, which were falsely advertised as heart-healthy.

It's certainly not crazy to be skeptical of pretty much any health and nutrition information that is peddled by the federal government and corporations that profit off of selling packaged and processed foods and fake meats, as these are the recommended replacements for meat and eggs. As more and more research comes out to show a strong connection between veganism and mental illness, it's only responsible to at least consider how much better high-quality, grass-fed meat is for our overall health and wellness.