The latest research on vegetarianism: does lack of meat in a diet can be a cause for depression?

If you are at least slightly interested in the topic of nutrition, you are certainly aware of a huge argument between two groups of people: those who eat meat and those who do not. When you check the advantages and disadvantages of these practices, you might become rather confused, because both of them seem perfectly sensible. This makes the situation rather confusing as you simply do not know whether you should eat meat or not.

The latest research of the topic has just been conducted by German scientists who have tried to dig into the topic by carrying out a meta-analysis of thirteen experiments on the topic. The field of their interest was the connection between depression and meat consumption. Finally, we have got the result of their analysis.

What was exactly the meta-analysis about?

In point of fact, the idea of the analysis was revealing any correlation between the diet of people and depression with a focus on meat. For this purpose they have taken the results of thirteen experiments conducted by other scientists. The total number of people who took place in those experiments is 49 889. 41 832 of them were people who eat meat and 8 057 was a mixed group of vegetarians and vegans.

Analysing the results of these experiments, these scientists wanted to see whether the presence of meat in a diet has any impact of the possibility of developing a depression. According to the conclusions of the German scientists, there is a correlation between a diet without meat and a tendency to developing depression. Presumably, people who have resigned from eating meat-based products are more prone to develop depression.

The topic needs further investigation

Certainly, the results of such an analysis are not enough for making vegetarianism or veganism one of the factors which really cause depression. The researchers from Germany themselves admit this fact.

First of all, there is no guarantee the participants of these experiments became depressed because of their diet without meat in the first place. Even if the connection between the diet and depression is real, it is still not obvious what comes first. It might be that the diet caused the depression, while it is also possible that people who are suffering from a depression are more prone to switch to a diet without meat.

The latter possibility is also quite sound as there has already been an experiment on the topic. That experiment revealed that more people with depression are more likely to be vegetarians or vegans than people without  depression.

The imperfections of the analysis

The analysis gave some information on the topic, however, it had some aspects which should be improved in the future for getting more accurate information.

First of all, the experiments which were taken into consideration by the researchers were rather diverse, with different aims and strategies. At the same time, the diversity of ethnic groups taking part in these experiments was not sufficient.

By the way, the mere fact vegetarians and vegans were both in the same group of participants might also raise questions since their diets differ from each other significantly.

What are possible reasons for vegetarians and vegans to be more susceptible to depression?

Of course, it is difficult to make any sensible conclusion about the results of this meta-analysis, however, it is possible to make some assumptions.

It is possible that the people who do not eat meat might suffer from the deficiency of vitamin B12. Their diets might also be poor in polyunsaturated fats which are crucial for healthy brain work.

At the same time, there are many reasons which might make vegetarians more depressed which do not have anything to do with the food itself. One of the popular reasons might be the fact they can be more stressed about the world in general, especially if they have chosen such a lifestyle because of their ethical believes. Another popular reason which might make vegetarians and vegans unhappy is the reaction of other people especially if the majority of the people surrounding them chose a meat-based diet. Vegetarians and vegans might be in a constant need to defend their choice and explain it others who are not particularly open to any explanations which can certainly make them depressed. This is even worse if their closest people are not supporting such a choice.

Finally, the availability of nutrition in the case of veganism is rather limited in some places which does not let vegans relax without thorough previous planning of the nutrition regiment for an entire day.

Finally, the risk of accidental eating products which include forbidden components can also make vegetarians and vegans rather stressed let alone the cases when they resigned from such products because of their health condition rather than ethical reasons and now are suffering not being able to consume favourite dishes.