Considering I just decided to make the jump and go (mostly) vegan (and by mostly, I mean on occasion I’ll chomp on a non-vegan cookie) the results of a new Austrian survey make me feel decidedly uncomfortable. Out of 1,320 participants evenly split into four diet groups (vegetarian, carnivorous diet rich in fruits and vegetables, carnivorous diet less rich in meat, and carnivorous diet rich in meat) the results showed that, all things considered, vegetarians might be living a less healthy lifestyle than their meat-eating counterparts. Socioeconomic status, body mass and lifestyle factors (i.e. exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption, etc.) were accounted for. Read the surprising results below.
Disclaimer: The participants in the study self-reported their health. Some viewers might chose to acknowledge that vegetarians could simply be more conscientious about their health.
1. Vegetarians have a higher rate of mental disorders
…By a significant 9.8 percent as compared to carnivores in all other groups. Of course, it’s not yet been proven whether or not this correlation is interdependent or simply a cause and effect. For instance, is it just that those who have mental disorders such as anxiety and depression have a greater tendency to forego meat? Or is that nutritional deficiencies from a vegetarian diet actually cause these mental health problems? The mystery remains.
2. Vegetarians reported a higher incidence of chronic illness
Here’s another conundrum: Do more vegetarians have chronic illnesses such as heart attacks, allergies and cancer? Or is that those who have chronic illnesses are more likely to cut the meat to treat these health problems? It’s pretty significant because the incidences were so stark, as compared to carnivores: Vegetarians were twice as likely to have allergies, 50 percent more likely suffer from heart attacks and 50 percent more likely to develop cancer. Oh, but there is a silver lining for legume-lovers: Turns out herbivorous peeps are actually LESS likely to have high blood pressure! This counts for carnivorous folks who also munch heavily on fruits and veggies.
3. Vegetarians have a lower quality of life
Perhaps because, according to the survey, they require more medical treatment? Or maybe, it’s because they simply don’t drink enough alcohol to drown their sorrow. Just kidding. But the study did find that vegetarians drink alcohol sparingly and smoke less tobacco as compared to meat-eaters.