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We know a lot about the effects that going veggie has on the planet or on our health... But what about the potential effects it has on our minds? Well, according to a new study, that's one area where going meat-free isn't winning.
The study found that vegetarians are generally more miserable than meat-eaters, with authors concluding that veggies may not be as 'psychologically well-adjusted'. Ouch.
Researchers asked 400 vegetarians, meat-eaters and 'semi-vegetarians' to record their feelings over the course of a fortnight, finding that, of the three groups, the vegetarians displayed the most negative feelings. They also appeared to enjoy social occasions the least.
According to the study, which appears in the journal Ecology of Food and Nutrition, those who cut meat from their diets also have lower self-esteem and see less meaning in life.
Vegetarians scored 4.62 for self-respect and meat-eaters 5.33 (where a lower score was worse), and vegetarians were also more likely to be depressed and unsatisfied.
The authors, who are from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, reckon that vegetarians may suffer because they're seen as morally superior by meat-eaters.
"Given that many celebrities advocate some type of vegetarian diet, non-vegetarians may feel that vegetarians are 'putting on airs' and that they are 'too good' for non-vegetarians," they explained.
Twenty-four vegetarians - including some vegans - took part in the study alongside 323 omnivores and 56 'semi-vegetarians', many of whom said they only avoided red meat or still ate fish.
Lead author Dr John Nezlek, who is also from the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Poznan, Poland, said: "Sometimes unwittingly, and sometimes intentionally, vegetarians may be excluded from social events or made to feel odd or different because they are vegetarians. Such things tend to happen for members of social minorities.
"Over time, such experiences can take their toll on a person's wellbeing. We believe that this study is important because it is the first to show that defining one's self as a vegetarian has implications for the quality of a person's daily life."
A spokesman for the Vegetarian Society has disputed the findings, saying there's actually a lot of positivity surrounding the vegetarian lifestyle.
He said: "What we see when people adopt a veggie diet in line with their values is they feel excited and positive about the contribution they are making."
Each to their own, right?
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