Vegetarianism Might Not Be As Healthy As We Were Lead To Believe

vegetarianUh oh, vegetarians, your meat-free lifestyle could be less healthy than you think.

As a certified flip flopper between strict vegetarianism and a beast-like carnivorous diet, I was under the impression that being a vegetarian was simply healthier. Perhaps I was wrong. New research from the Medical University of Graz, Austria suggests that plant based diets are linked to poorer health and quality of life in a number of ways. In order to come to this counterintuitive conclusion, the researchers surveyed both vegetarians and meat eaters, examining their demographic characteristics, lifestyle differences and dietary habits. Per the researchers themselves:

“Our study has shown that Austrian adults who consume a vegetarian diet are less healthy (in terms of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), have a lower quality of life, and also require more medical treatment.”

According to a CBS Atlanta report on the study, here are some of the health problems associated with vegetarianism:

  • Double the risk of allergies
  • More likely to suffer from depression or anxiety
  • Higher levels of impairment from chronic disease
  • 50% increase in cancer risk
  • 50% increase in heart attack risk

The research isn’t totally anti-vegetarian diet. They did find that vegetarians are healthier in a number of ways:

  • Lower BMIs
  • More active
  • Higher socioeconomic status
  • Less likely to consume alcohol

Since the conclusions of this particular study negates previous data showing the link between the consumption of red meat in particular and health problems, the scientists behind this study say that further research is needed to confirm their findings.

I’d be more “in your face, vegetarians. you thought you were sooo healthy,” but chronic disease and depression aren’t something I want to joke about. Choosing whether or not one eats a vegetarian diet is an entirely personal choice. Though the decision to forgo meat is sometimes fueled by the perceived health benefits, it’s often an ethical choice. Should further research confirm these negative health implications associated with vegetarianism, those who are meat-free for moral reasons will likely not be dissuaded by possible risks. Hopefully medical advances will be able to improve everyone’s quality of life, regardless of their meat intake.

via The Daily Mail//Image via Shutterstock

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    • xvala

      You mean we were misLED. For the love of god, get your tenses straight.

      • Julia Sonenshein

        It’s a typo not a terrorist attack. OH THE HUMANITY!

    • Mila

      I am not convinced, specially taking the china study into consideration…I ve been a vegetarian for 12 years now and plan on being one for the rest of my life.

      • Camilla

        Really? The China Study? A study so poorly constructed, that it makes baseless claims with no data to support it? You have obviously never critically read the China Study.

        http://chriskresser.com/rest-in-peace-china-study

        Anyway being a vegetarian is a personal choice, don’t preach

    • Lindsey Conklin

      I found too when I was a vegetarian that I could excuse unhealthy eating habits assuming that my regular diet was so healthy, I could eat more/slash salads way less filling (even with the addition of beans), etc.

    • ProfElwood

      I’m not a vegetarian, but I do see some assumptions here. Quite a few of the people that I know are vegetarians, decided to be vegetarians because of health risks. I would think some effort would have to be put into figuring out cause and effect here, for all of those results.

    • http://theweightlosslie.com/ wally247

      This is terrible information. Now we will have a bunch of fat slobs shoveling EVEN MORE meat in their faces thinking they are eating “healthy”. Obesity and disease are at an ALL TIME HIGH, and people are eating MORE MEAT THAN EVER so a terrible article will not change that.

      • slyfox

        No one here was encouraging anyone to gain weight or eat meat? Where did you get that?

      • http://theweightlosslie.com/ wally247

        I didn’t get that, because I never said that anyone was encouraging anybody to eat meat. What I am saying is that this article is absurd. I also looked at the study from which this article was based, and it is not really a finished study.

        They didn’t account for any junk food that any vegetarians may eat, and if I remember right (which I may not so no need to word me up later) they didn’t even look at conditions that may have already existed.

        This article is saying that vegetarians are not as healthy as meat eaters. MY LOGIC says that if you look at the unhealthiest people on the planet and look at what they eat, it’s meat and sugar.

        By the way, I am not even a “vegetarian”. A vegetarian can eat as much sugar and processed foods as they want without “cheating” on their way of life, and there is nothing healthy about that. But to say that eating meat lowers your risk of cancer from a half-completed study is crazy.

      • Ryan

        Wally, I am not a vegetarian. Never will be. Here’s what I do know. Weight gain, heart disease and high LDL (bad) cholesterol is directly associated with increased insulin production, not meat. People who are vegetarian believe they are being healthy by cutting something that actually benefits them. When you cut saturated fat (again, not the problem), food is bland. So how do most vegetarians get enjoyment out of eating? They consume processed sugar and carbs, increasing the body’s insulin production which stores fat and creates plaque in arteries. More studies these days are showing the dangers of sugar consumption. Please look up The Great Cholesterol Myth. It’s a book written by two medical experts who’ve found that between saturated fat and sugar, scientists picked the wrong thing to try and make sense of a growing trend in heart disease. They should have acknowledged sugar as the big problem.

    • Eileen

      I’m all for being omnivorous, but just glancing at this article it sounds as if the proper controls were not done…especially since the “benefits” for vegetarians are all related to things other than whether you eat meat or not. (How much I drink or exercise is not a product of how much meat I eat, for example) Additionally, of course there are healthier omnivorous and healthier vegetarian diets, so that doesn’t seem quite accurate either.