Can Vegetarian Diets Cause Mental Disorders?

Can vegetarian diets cause mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety? Some people believe so. And a new observational study shows that vegetarians do indeed have an elevated risk of such problems. Whether that’s really cause and effect is, as usual, impossible to know.

What do you think?

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56 Comments

Top Comments

  1. Elenor UK
    Thank you for posting this, it once again confirms my suspicions.

    I became vegetarian in 1986.

    Before 1986 I cannot recall being unhappy or anxious. I remember being content at primary school and secondary school and leaving secondary school with the best qualification results of my peers. This performance academically continued in my first year in college even though I did not like the college and had missed old friends from school.

    In the second year of college I became vegetarian.

    The second year my exam results were awful.

    I had developed anxiety, mood problems and depression. I put my problems down to being unhappy with the college and hormonal changes.
    As time went on my problems with anxiety and depression got worse. I was diagnosed and treated for depression and social anxiety disorder. Over the years I have also had suicidal thoughts, panic attacks and alcohol dependency.

    I began to think this is just the way I am, that I was never going to be better.

    Back in June I watched a BBC documentary (The men who made us fat) which proved to be life changing for me as it opened the door to voracious research on my part which led to the realisation that my diet had seriously damaged my health mentally and also also caused physical harm.

    I cut out processed food, cut down dramatically on sugar, and cut down on carbs.

    I learned to cook from scratch and began using supplements.

    Almost immediately my brain fog began to lift, as did my mood! My energy levels which had been dreadful, dramatically improved!

    I was amazed!! I had consigned my future to chronic decline, yet now I was feeling great.

    I read more and more, eventually I finally accepted I did need some animal products in my diet besides diary, two weeks ago I began to eat fish.

    I am now convinced my diet caused 26 years of mental problems. Still better late than never I suppose!

    As a side effect I have lost 6lbs in a month and a half. :-)

    I am refining my diet further to eat fewer carbs and get healthier and healthier. I still have a lot to learn!

    I *never* want to go back to the way I felt!!!!

    Thanks to Andreas for your work.

    I am trying to get my dad who recently developed diabetes to watch your video, however he is terrified of going against his doctors advice :-/

    Reply: #40
    Read more →
  2. John
    After five years on a vegan diet, and fasting yearly for what I believed was the purging of toxins, I started to feel bad. I was ill at ease, bad tempered, not satisfied with anything and struggled to focus on my job and hobbies. Everything seemed futile and pointless. I developed bad breath. I decided I needed another fast: obviously this bad breath and negativity were caused by toxins, or tiredness, and I just needed to purify my diet.

    So I fasted for a couple of days. When I came off the fast I felt worse than ever. In fact, I felt like I wanted to die. My arms an legs felt weak, I was lethargic, and I would start crying once or twice a day with a feeling of extreme frustration at how bad I felt. I had episodes of intense depersonalisation, where I didn't feel that I was real. I thought I was going nuts. And also, I lost the ability to sleep well, only getting a couple of hours a night, and sometimes nothing. Through all this, I continued to work in my teaching job. I wanted to kill myself, and if it hadn't been for my wife and kids, I might have done so.

    Over the next couple of years, I became vegetarian, rather than vegan, and recovered significantly, though sleep remained a problem, and I continued to be anxious and easily stressed. I also put on weight, around 5-10 kgs. Then, late last year I switched to low carb,
    and for the first time in five years began to sleep well. My anxiety simply faded away, and I feel good. The weight all came off, the muscle went on, the usual story.

    Our nervous systems and brains need a lot of protein and saturated fat to remain healthy. I starved mine for years, and almost died. I've been to planet vegan and back again, and in hindsight don't recommend the trip.

    Read more →

All Comments

  1. Well, that's certainly an interesting paper. The authors do make what seem like reasonable comments on what they do and don't see as plausible candidates for a causal relationship. Specifically, they express a preference for the hypothesis that a mental health problem might influence someone's decision to become vegetarian, rather than vice versa. This is from their conclusions:

    "Importantly, we found no evidence for a causal role of vegetarian
    diet in the etiology of mental disorders. Rather, our results are
    more consistent with the view that the experience of a mental
    disorder increases the probability of choosing a vegetarian diet,
    or that psychological factors influence both the probability of
    choosing a vegetarian diet and the probability of developing
    a mental disorder."

    Obviously, it is difficult to draw watertight conclusions about causal relationships from an observational study like this. However, I think it would certainly be unfair to lay the blame for an individual's mental disorder at the door of his/her vegetarian diet if the onset of that disorder preceded the start of the diet! Even if it is an observational study, when A precedes B chronologically, I have a hard time believing that B caused A. What I understood from this paper was that they observed a strong tendency for the mental disorder to precede the vegetarian diet, rather than the other way around. Was I reading that right?

  2. Ukan
    I talked to a vegetarian once. I ended up depressed for a week. Q.E.D.
  3. nonegiven
    Vegetarian diets are low in fat and cholesterol. Wouldn't that affect your brain? Your hormones? I can see having to be nuts to give up meat but still, it would just make your brain worse.
  4. Bee
    As a former vegetarian (from the age of 15 to 35) and someone who has struggled with depression, I'm tempted to say that the depressive personality is likely the cause, not the result, of vegetarianism. Depression, it is often said, is anger turned inward. And there's plenty to be angry and depressed about if you happen to be a super-sensitive person who sees injustice everywhere in the world. The plight of factory farmed animals certainly is depressing.
    Also, it's possible that people, women in particular, with a tendency toward eating disorders chose vegetarianism and a socially acceptable way of limiting food.
    I'm no expert, but I find this all very interesting!
  5. Wade Henderson
    What do you think?

    Uh, weak. But I appreciate it being presented.

    So, weak, but interesting. I love to read the information put forth by both sides.
    I'm somewhere in the middle, and finding the offerings of both sides to be entertaining and even educational.

    Why, just yesterday I listened to the first 20 minutes of a 55 minute video on a LFHC site.
    All fully backed up with studies.
    http://nutritionfacts.org/video/uprooting-the-leading-causes-of-death/
    For them, meat causes death, clear and simple. Oh my! But very entertaining.

    So I see the that presentation and then read "Vegetarian Diets Cause Mental Disorders" and what is a open minded person to think?

    Its as though those on each side exist on a intellectual diet as one sided as their nutritional diet.
    Actually I find the mindset of both sides as interesting as the actual dietary programs.

    Thus far, seemingly undisputed, are 1. Veggies are good. 2. Soda-pop is bad.
    No one seems to dispute those two conclusions (Except Coca Cola and Pepsi)

  6. John
    After five years on a vegan diet, and fasting yearly for what I believed was the purging of toxins, I started to feel bad. I was ill at ease, bad tempered, not satisfied with anything and struggled to focus on my job and hobbies. Everything seemed futile and pointless. I developed bad breath. I decided I needed another fast: obviously this bad breath and negativity were caused by toxins, or tiredness, and I just needed to purify my diet.

    So I fasted for a couple of days. When I came off the fast I felt worse than ever. In fact, I felt like I wanted to die. My arms an legs felt weak, I was lethargic, and I would start crying once or twice a day with a feeling of extreme frustration at how bad I felt. I had episodes of intense depersonalisation, where I didn't feel that I was real. I thought I was going nuts. And also, I lost the ability to sleep well, only getting a couple of hours a night, and sometimes nothing. Through all this, I continued to work in my teaching job. I wanted to kill myself, and if it hadn't been for my wife and kids, I might have done so.

    Over the next couple of years, I became vegetarian, rather than vegan, and recovered significantly, though sleep remained a problem, and I continued to be anxious and easily stressed. I also put on weight, around 5-10 kgs. Then, late last year I switched to low carb,
    and for the first time in five years began to sleep well. My anxiety simply faded away, and I feel good. The weight all came off, the muscle went on, the usual story.

    Our nervous systems and brains need a lot of protein and saturated fat to remain healthy. I starved mine for years, and almost died. I've been to planet vegan and back again, and in hindsight don't recommend the trip.

  7. Bee
    Also, I know people think it's funny to say you'd have to be crazy to become veggie, but I stand by that decidion 100%. It turned out to be bad for my health and the result of false information, but it was the result of empathy and of trying to affect the world in a positive way. Not nuts at all!
  8. @Bee Yes, but people who have a lot of empathy and try to effect the world in a positive way are probably more likely to develop mental disorders. :)

    I really think the type of people who want to become vegetarians/vegans is clearly not a representative sample of people in general. There is certainly less variation among vegetarians/vegans than the population as a whole (especially in the United States where we're not talking about religious reasons or not being able to afford meat).

    We all hypothesize that these same people are more likely to take care of themselves in other non-dietary ways, so it makes perfect sense to me that they might also be more likely to develop mental disorders. Being 'weird' is usual not a good thing, in the aggregate case. It's find for an individual, but looking at a 'weird' population, of course they will have other aberrations besides just labeling themselves 'vegans/vegetarians.'

  9. Jean
    John, if you read the book "Steve Jobs," the biography that was published last year right after he died, you might find it interesting that Jobs apparently struggled with the same physical and emotional/behavioral issues you describe with his often-extreme brand of veganism and food deprivation. I wonder if that's where some of his outbursts of anger and alienating behavior came from, living as he did on raw carrot juice and not much else for years at a time.
  10. Peggy Holloway
    Everyone in my family who has adopted a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle for any length of time has suffered some sort of severe mood/mental disorder - eating disorders, ADHD, anxiety, depression, insomnia - and for my son and daughter, a combination of the above. These disorders disappeared with the switch to paleo/low-carb.
  11. I think you can save a lot of time reading studies if you just learn to quit as soon as you encounter the word "observational," and just look up who paid for the study. That's all you really need to know about an observational "study" anyway.
  12. Zepp
    Probably not by eating an vegetarian diet, but by malnutrition!?

    Its more dificult to get all nutrishment if one cut out all animal food, but as I know most vegetarians do eat egg and dairys and some of them eat fish occasionaly.

  13. Jessica
    I am a vegetarian who eats fish, eggs, and cheese (I suppose I would be considered a pescatarian). Aside from that, I don't eat any animal products whatsoever. I can honestly say that I struggled with anxiety and depression for my entire life...until I got serious about proper nutrition and adopted healthier eating habits. I truly believe that our diets can have an effect on our mental well being; sadly, many vegetarians do not eat a balanced or nutritious diet. I would not be surprised if depression was linked to vegetarianism in that so many do not ensure that they are getting the proper vitamins and minerals. The same goes for those who eat loads of unhealthy or junk food--vegetarian or not, it's safe to say that malnutrition, dehydration, and a lack of vital nutrients is likely to cause a load of mental stress on a person.
    Reply: #42
  14. Confused
    So many vegetarians experience B12 deficiency, one of whose main symptoms is. . .mood changes or depression. It's all laid out on WebMD. This may also explain the common incidents of "veggie rage" we all have experienced.
  15. Elwin Ransom
    Whether the mentally ill are drawn to vegetarianism, or vegetarianism causes mental illness - this would still explain PETA...
  16. Elenor UK
    Thank you for posting this, it once again confirms my suspicions.

    I became vegetarian in 1986.

    Before 1986 I cannot recall being unhappy or anxious. I remember being content at primary school and secondary school and leaving secondary school with the best qualification results of my peers. This performance academically continued in my first year in college even though I did not like the college and had missed old friends from school.

    In the second year of college I became vegetarian.

    The second year my exam results were awful.

    I had developed anxiety, mood problems and depression. I put my problems down to being unhappy with the college and hormonal changes.
    As time went on my problems with anxiety and depression got worse. I was diagnosed and treated for depression and social anxiety disorder. Over the years I have also had suicidal thoughts, panic attacks and alcohol dependency.

    I began to think this is just the way I am, that I was never going to be better.

    Back in June I watched a BBC documentary (The men who made us fat) which proved to be life changing for me as it opened the door to voracious research on my part which led to the realisation that my diet had seriously damaged my health mentally and also also caused physical harm.

    I cut out processed food, cut down dramatically on sugar, and cut down on carbs.

    I learned to cook from scratch and began using supplements.

    Almost immediately my brain fog began to lift, as did my mood! My energy levels which had been dreadful, dramatically improved!

    I was amazed!! I had consigned my future to chronic decline, yet now I was feeling great.

    I read more and more, eventually I finally accepted I did need some animal products in my diet besides diary, two weeks ago I began to eat fish.

    I am now convinced my diet caused 26 years of mental problems. Still better late than never I suppose!

    As a side effect I have lost 6lbs in a month and a half. :-)

    I am refining my diet further to eat fewer carbs and get healthier and healthier. I still have a lot to learn!

    I *never* want to go back to the way I felt!!!!

    Thanks to Andreas for your work.

    I am trying to get my dad who recently developed diabetes to watch your video, however he is terrified of going against his doctors advice :-/

    Reply: #40
  17. Lynne
    @ Elenor UK. Great to read your story, I am about 3 months ahead of you on the same path and want to say 'keep going'! Also, I had just tripped over the diabetes cut off number the NHS adopts and LCHF has completed reversed the number to normal! Tell your dad his doctor won't be managing his diabetes anyway, there are so many it's down to the patient- they are on their own Also, if your dad follows the Eatbadly pâté they advise, his condition will slowly worsen.
  18. John2
    Not sure if we can implicate vegetarianism per se, but from personal experience I know chronic high blood sugar can affect your mood and cognitive abilities even at pre-diabetic levels.
  19. Laura
    I became clinically depressed in the last 2-3 years of a 16 years stint as a vegan/veg. But even before that in general my morale became increasingly low over the years and every mole hill was a mountain In the end I had to see a psycholigst follow CBT etc....
    Cerntainly nutrition can and does affect brain function and a low fat diet or the wrong fats and poor nutrition in general have been associated with increased rates of violence to others and to oneself, suicide, bipolar disorders and schizophrenia not to mention dementia.
    I would have never even made a connection before but now 7 months on into my paleo/lchf I am full of zest for life and no mountain is too high
    I feel I have had a lucky escape.
    Ketotic diets have been used and recommended in epilepsy and more recently in slowing down Alzeheimer's and dementia andother neurodegenerative/inflammatory disorders..so
  20. Troy Wynn
    Eat lot's of red meat. Fatty cuts of red meat. You will feel great.
  21. When my daughter was 13 years old she got a severe depression
    She was not eating any omega 3 ( apart from eggs) and was almost a vegetarian at that time. Doc wanted to put her on anti depression drugs but I decided to help her with supplements and food. I was inspired by this blog
    http://www.rebuild-from-depression.com/blog/
    I fed her high numbers of omega 3 from fish oil ( Nordic Naturals) as well as Multi B vitamin, magnesium , Iron and zink
    and after 3 weeks her teacher called me and asked what had happen ? - it was a totally different child . Today she is 18 and eating meat again- but sadly no fish so I keep giving her NN as codliver oil - everytime she seem to get low -I up her dose :)
  22. Galina L.
    I think that vegetarian agenda is unfriendly for humans. I stopped having all mental issues associated with pre-menopause after switching on LC diet. I am talking about horrible mood swings normal for females around 50. I just can't imagine what it would be like if I had a pre-existing mood disorder. Humanity will be better without that group (vegetarians) promoting self-health distraction in order to live up to their utopia.
    Reply: #35
  23. While I think the "study" in question is trash, I am of the opinion that a meatless diet is suboptimal for humans, based on my own experience. But it's not clear whether a meatless diet causes mental problems, or it's just that people with mental problems gravitate to a meatless diet.

    While my own experience is derided by the vegan crowd as meaningless (N=1), I submit that my own experience counts for far more than what generally passes for science in current nutritional "research." That's because my motivation isn't the procurement of more grant money from organizations with Politically-Correct agendas. My motivation is to find what works for me.

  24. We ate a mostly vegetarian diet, plus fish, and my son was brought up a vegetarian baby. My daughter had a more mixed diet until she was about four. We started giving up meat at the time when meat producers in the UK were trying to hide their BSE-infected cattle and we just felt vulnerable with a young family. Then I read the Vegetarian magazine regularly and it seemed that we were doing the right thing - cutting out meat wouldn't affect us badly (except we never gave up eating fish).

    I now look back and think I didn't do the right thing as far as my children were concerned. My son was quite a fussy eater. We gradually started having more meat by the time he was a teenager. Both my kids are fine though, and both eat meat now. The thing is, I didn't do it to be holier than thou but because I was concerned about the way our meat is produced (antibiotics, etc., and the conditions animals were kept in). We still do eat some vegetarian meals but I'm phasing out the pulses and increasing the fish and meat meals considerably. I do wish we didn't have to be continually reading that meat gives us cancer though.

  25. I've read all of the comments above with great interest. I must say I was a little surprised that so many of them attributed such serious health problems to vegetarianism.

    Personally, I was a lacto-vegetarian for 20 years or so, starting at about age 16, and I was in excellent health for all of that time, despite eating no meat or fish. For about the last 9 months of of my vegetarianism, I was eating LCHF and found the two things surprisingly compatible, as long as I was making my own food. However, it was certainly proving difficult to eat low-carb and vegetarian in restaurants and others' homes, so I asked myself which constraints I would prefer to relax. There wasn't any particular ideology behind my vegetarianism, whereas I've become quite committed to LCHF / paleo based on my research and personal experiences, so it turned out to be an easy choice.

    When I began eating LCHF, but remained a vegetarian, I noticed some interesting health changes:

    1.) Although I was already slim, I dropped a few kilos;

    2.) I found that my appetite and energy levels were more consistent;

    3.) Most interestingly, for the first time in about 12 years, my hay fever never arrived this summer. Obviously, it's a bit early to draw any major conclusions from this. However, it strikes me that if this is a lasting change (maybe due to reduced inflammation throughout the body?), then it's potentially a manifestation of quite a profound change.

    Anyway, when I resumed eating fish and meat a few months later I did not observe any further health change. Nothing. Eating low-carb is certainly more convenient when you eat meat and fish, but that's basically all I observed.

    I can't help feeling some dismay when I read vitriolic comments from LCHF / paleo / low-carb enthusiasts dismissing vegetarianism (or other diets). I think it's important to resist dogmas and keep an open mind about the potential benefits of different diets, even when they're very different from one's own. Unfortunately, much remains uncertain in our understanding of human diet, so black-and-white statements should be approached with caution. Also, angry criticism of others' diets seems more likely to polarise a debate rather than persuade anyone to try something you believe in.

    By the way, in case anyone's looking for the full paper, here's a link:

    http://www.ijbnpa.org/content/pdf/1479-5868-9-67.pdf

  26. JC
    A high school in Appleton, Wisconsin tried an experiment under the enlightened guidance of their principal, LuAnn Coenen. She wanted to see if she could positively affect the fighting, weapons-carrying and general lack of focus and discipline in the school by changing the food the kids ate.

    Vending machines were replaced with water coolers; hamburgers and French fries were taken off the menu and replaced with fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grain breads and a salad bar. With the departure of junk food, she also saw the departure of vandalism, litter and the need for police patrolling her hallways. The students were calm, socially engaged and focused on their schoolwork. Problems were minimal. And all Ms. Coenen did was change the menu.

  27. Patrick
    I have been bi-polar since I was a teenager. I dont take medication and before I became vegan I had mood swings and was depressed most of the time. In January of this year I went vegetarian for a month and then total vegan. Besides dropping an unwanted 30 pounds my mood improved significantly. Depression is rare and other health issues have disappeared.
  28. Lola
    When i became vegan it made me feel healthier and happier. I had so much more energy than before.

    Mental disorders are not dermined by ones diet. It depends on your personality and your experiences in life.

  29. vikki
    I have struggled my whole life with depression, anxiety,ect. I have been on a full and strict based life style (vegan) for 3 months. I have lived on strong medication for ever, UNTIL NOW! I do still have mood swings but it is so much better along with my monthly cycle! My youngest son was on adhd medication and is now off of it as well! Our family of 5 is doing the plant based life style! My husband and I make sure we all get the vitamin b12 ,all the omega's we need iron ect! We are very careful to make sure we have what we need to be healthy! I have lost 25 # and my youngest has gained 4 (He is very under weight ) so we needed to make sure he did not lose any weight while doing this ! I can honestly say this was the best thing we could have ever done! It takes time to re-train our way of thinking bc we have been taught our whole lives that we need meat and milk and so on and so on to stay healthy and really all it was doing was clogging our arteries and making us sick! Do your own research on the plant based life style watch Forks over Knives full moving on netflix --- and earthlings (complete movie) on youtube! be educated on what you eat and feed your children and grandchildren!
  30. Vladi
    Just another point of view bases in a statistical study:

    http://www.ijbnpa.org/content/9/1/67#sec5

    Watch out the conclusions:

    "On the whole, our results strongly corroborate the past findings in smaller samples of adolescents and young adults, which have demonstrated that in contrast to physical health, a vegetarian diet is not associated with better mental health. Whether compared with a control group of non-vegetarians matched for important socio-demographic characteristics, or with non-vegetarians in general, vegetarians show elevated prevalence rates of diverse mental disorders. Importantly, we found no evidence for a causal role of vegetarian diet in the etiology of mental disorders. Rather, our results are more consistent with the view that the experience of a mental disorder increases the probability of choosing a vegetarian diet, or that psychological factors influence both the probability of choosing a vegetarian diet and the probability of developing a mental disorder"

  31. John
    Being a vegetarian or a vegan really can be so cumbersome. I was a bad vegan for two years and then went into pescetarianism (fish eating veggie) for the next twelve years. About five years in i found myself over emotional, over sensitive, difficulty coping confused etc but my diet was far from perfect in many ways so I could not hand on heart lay all the blame on my dietary choices. Now I'm more settled, even qualified as a nutritional therapist and it all points in the same direction...being vegan/vegetarian is good for your health. i know all there is to know and after recent bouts of apathy and being unable to cope, i'm thinking I will shortly go back to eating meat regardless of where the facts lead...i think i have to know one way or another if that's the problem. I supplemented adequately with B12, omega 3's, b complex but had blood sugar control issues(maybe from a lack of protein at meals or maybe from a tendency to eat more grains for calories and to feel satisfied) with other issues as a result of wheat products. All the while I was exercising very little. In the long term, healthy vegetarianism is hard unless you become a pill popper...one for b12, another for efa's, b's in general are not met near aswell from a veg diet as with meat so there go your energy levels and your nervous function without supplementation(folate the exception), zinc is questionable unless you loyally eat your seeds, ground seeds that is. Its all a bit of a nightmare, you see other people coasting through life without mental health issues and not necessarily looking after themselves and you just say fuck it, its not fair when you are supposedly doing all the right things that you then have the issues you have. It is becoming apparent to me now that people really aren't eating meat because of taste, its because of a biological necessity. There are many advantages to a vegetarian diet but improved mental health is not one of them and when your mind isn't working it really doesn't matter about cholesterol,heart disease cancer, living becomes more important. I'm 14 years in on my journey and this is probably the first negative comment I have ever made about vegetarianism. I don't know if comment is helpful to anyone im just saying its a long road to being a healthy vegetarian with many pitfalls on the way.
  32. Helen
    I think not being vegan would be the most depressing thing of all, I couldn't live with myself knowing other animals were suffering just for me to eat and survive. As a vegan I feel happy and fulfilled because I'm doing all I can for Mother Earth, so no depression here :D
  33. Galina L
    I hope, Helen, you will not have any children. It will be also good for Mother Earth.
  34. john
    Helen you are looking at mental health issues in a very. Simplistic way. Do you think anyone that has been vegan likes eating animals. People do itout of necessity. In an attempt to address a sometimes a life threatening imbalance.If you can continue to be a healthy happy vegan then keep going as you are but don't insult the people on this thread because you really haven't a clue.
  35. Lisa
    Galina L, your comment makes a very clever point. If we're sacrificing our own health for the health of other creatures, we're self-defeating in more ways than one.
  36. jf
  37. Maggie Bailey
    Bee and Helen have said it! People are MORE likely to be depressed, anxious, etc, as a result of a vegetarian diet mainly because it is only then that they become really aware of all the horrible things humans do to animals, and it consequently affects their mood. If you are a very selfish, thick-skinned sort of person you are not going to care about animals dying in agony for your bacon sandwich, are you? (I am vegan by the way, and I don't have any mental health problems! )
  38. Galina L.
    Maggie,
    If people are depressed and anxious because of realities of life, they are not fit for life, like mental creeps. Some are upset because germs are around. What if somebody is anxious because we all will be dead some day? It is unrealistic to expect from the rest of population to became mentally handicapped in the same fashion. Most people are busy with real life problems, not dreaming about utopias. For absolute majority of people in a general population meat is a food to eat, and farm animals exists to serve such need. It is unrealistic for you to expect to pass your anxieties on everyone.
    Reply: #51
  39. Cecialia Pine
    "Becoming vegan can cause mental disorders," says the omnivore.
    "Becoming vegan reversed my depression," says I, the vegan.
    It's true. Every word.
    Before I became vegan, I was always moping, thinking how life could be better. I was crying much to often, taking things terribly. After I went vegan, I was so much happier. I went from a pessimist to an realist to an optimist. I am so much happier now. And, to be honest? Who's to say the dairy industry wasn't involved in those 'studies?'
    Not trying to be mean, but it seems that people jump to conclusions about vegans/vegetarians. That vegan committed suicide? So did two omnivores, but that's not getting any news.
    Thanks. Bye.
  40. Depression can hit many us during our lives despite of our diets.

    A close friend of mine just got diagnosed with a late onset of bipolarism at 39 y o. She is an avid meat and dairy eater. There were no changes in her diet at all.

    Another one, at 42, suddenly got severely depressed. She never had a vegetarian meal in her life. It just happened. No

    I always suffered from depression since I was 12 years old. I tried going vegan at 34. I said tried because I did not know how that would affect my depression. That was 6 years ago, and if anything, my depression and anxiety have mildly improved. No radical changes but I seem to feel a bit better since then. So I am sticking to it. I take my B12 and eat plenty of greens and wholegrains.

    I also thing that someone who has some interests in the meat-dairy industry, is spreading some Bullsh1t. Over the last 6 years I joined the vegetarian society in London, where I meat many remarkable people. Lots of them, in their 50s , are vegetarian or vegan from birth. They are even healthier (and look younger!) than your average "omnivore".

    Always look at who is behind some studies and if they have any interest in the outcome. Flesh and death is a very profitable multimillion business and they will do what they can to keep you hooked.

    We all know we do not need meat for good health. Quite the opposite

  41. I totally agree with this study. I was a vegetarian for a few years and developed panic disorder and depression. Ended up in therapy and on Celexa. I didn't see the connection until I recently adopted a vegetarian diet again and the depression, insomnia, and anxiety came back full-force.

    My diet is about 75% organic, I take supplements, use a light box in the winter, don't drink, don't drink coffee, and eat very little processed foods or simple carbs. Started eating meat again and I felt miraculously better in a few days. The solution for me is lots of animal protein, nuts and seeds, veggies, and small amounts of complex carbs.

  42. Jimmy
    "I am a vegetarian who eats fish, eggs, and cheese (I suppose I would be considered a pescatarian). "

    - actually the term for that is "meat eater." Maybe you should try being a vegetarian who eats fish, chicken, pork and beef. Talk about attatchment to labels.

    I am a vegetarian who eats fish, eggs, and cheese (I suppose I would be considered a pescatarian). Aside from that, I don't eat any animal products whatsoever. I can honestly say that I struggled with anxiety and depression for my entire life...until I got serious about proper nutrition and adopted healthier eating habits. I truly believe that our diets can have an effect on our mental well being; sadly, many vegetarians do not eat a balanced or nutritious diet. I would not be surprised if depression was linked to vegetarianism in that so many do not ensure that they are getting the proper vitamins and minerals. The same goes for those who eat loads of unhealthy or junk food--vegetarian or not, it's safe to say that malnutrition, dehydration, and a lack of vital nutrients is likely to cause a load of mental stress on a person.

  43. Erin
    I'm just sick of being depressed, ocd, guilt ridden grief--when I make an effort to eat better, I do feel better. But then I get hit with the lows and start binge eating. I wish I could go vegan. I was raised on a farm and actually raised cattle for a few years. My brother has a big cattle operation. In my old age, it really disturbs me. I am surrounded by veal farms, hog factories, turkey factories, cattle,dairy farms, everything. Trouble with me, I will go for long periods of time without meat because I just don't really care for it anymore. But then I just eat garbage. I really believe I feel a bit better when I eat some chicken, fish, or a little beef. Then I don't eat so much junk food and carbs. One thing I believe from my own bad habits--diet or lack of a good one sure causes havoc with mental health as well as physical health. I think if I ever decide to go vegan I would need to see some kind of nutritionist to tell me what to eat--I get confused when I read about it online. So much info. What works for one doesn't always work for another. I have a good friend who is vegan and he looks and feels like a millon dollars. But I also have friends who eat meat and make sure they eat healthy and they look good, too.
  44. Hannah
    I was vegetarian for 4 years. Before that time I was happy, upbeat, and energetic. I didn't make excellent grades in school, but I did decently and made an effort. After becoming vegetarian I began to lose weight rapidly. I didn't notice it at the time but my social anxiety increased. However, my weight loss gave me a newfound confidence and 9 months in, I was feeling better than ever.

    A few months later, that changed entirely. Insomnia followed by bouts of 12 hour sleep developed. Anxiety developed. Depression developed. Finally, derealization came over me, just over a year into my vegetarian diet. As time went on I began taking ADD and anti-depressant medications, which only served to further cloud my brain.

    Do I have any concrete proof that it was my vegetarian diet that caused it? Other than the notion that the brain is made from fat, the fact that it's the only thing I did differently, and that it's happened to other people-- no. However, the simple fact that it did happen to me makes me feel like it'd be worth studying. I do believe vegetarianism is what caused my depression, but when I was vegetarian, I didn't eat well... so who knows?

    I broke my vegetarian diet after nearly 4 years, at the same time as I came off of Prozac. I'm still recovering, but I've learned a bit about diet since then. Nowadays my diet is completely reversed: most of my food comes from animals. I'm more muscular, energetic, and confident than I have been since I was a child.

    I'm not saying an animal-based diet is going to be right for everyone or that a plant-based diet is wrong for everyone... but you should definitely give every type of diet a try before you dismiss one.

  45. Aly Ex
    You know what I think? I think people are constantly looking for ways to make everything bad. It's all pathetic bullshit. I'd rather go back to the days when we all lived to a maximum of 40, atleast people were actually living and not just worrying!!!!!!!
  46. Christine
    This is a good write up. When we say, vegetarians, doesn't mean you are safe to illnesses and diseases. Sometimes, veggies is not the solution but you need to consult your physician if you also need to try some meat and protein.
  47. Karla
    I was vegetarian for 27 years, since I was a kid. At primary school I was happy and a fast learner, I was the top of my school, not hard in a school of 40 mind but I always did the same work as those older than me. Within 2 years I started to show obvious signs of depression, I completely stopped talking and became withdrawn. I chose to be veggie as my Dad was veggie, it was actually a bet, no compassion involved at that time. I stuck to it through all those years of depression and medication that didnt work and only gave it up when I became physically ill. I believe that being veggie did play a part but only time will tell on that one.
  48. gisela
    Not at all.
  49. pragmatist
    Very interesting article and comments. From my extensive reading it appears that the real menace is toxic stuff and fake food such as soda, sugar, HFCS, potato chips, corn oil, canola oil, soy oil, vegetable oil, bologna, salami, juice, cigarettes, drugs, some meds, white flour bread, white rice, white flour pasta,

    the way to health is to consume lots of vegetables, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, whole fresh fruit and berries, clean water, unsweetened coconut milk, coconut oil, whole grains, stevia extract, fresh free-range humane eggs, sustainable wild-caught fish, some free-range drug-free meat; combined with physical activity, good jobs, independence, dignity, fairness, freedom, good books, fun with friends, good sleep

    do not torture, enslave, kill humans. Do not to

  50. Andrea
    As it is often the case, I've found reading the comments on this article far more interesting and revealing than the original study. It confirms what I have come to believe recently: there is no such thing as "one size fits all".
    My family is divided genetically into two groups, with very few exceptions. While the women struggle with too much weight, the men simply cannot seem to be able to gain any. Most of us fall either side of a very sharp divide. Psychological issues of depression, anger etc. exist on both sided though.
    Being a woman, I have known from an early age that I just cannot be as casual about nutrition as my two brothers, who could have been models in their youth. So I became a vegetarian around age 20 and in recent years I would have shorter-longer periods of veganism. But the healthier I ate, the bigger I had become. Being a mom I usually cook our own meals, I never took my family to fast food restaurants and don't even remember what coke tastes like. I don't like sports but I have always lead a very active life: love cleaning, decorating, doing useful physical activities. And yet by the summer of 2013 I had become morbidly obese and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
    I first saw Dr Peter Attia's very emotional TED talk in September, which led me to Taubes, Lustig, Phinney, Volek etc. Went on a keto diet, having fish, eggs and dairy but no meat (Phinney and Attia speciphically said not to eat too much protein, as it can knock you out of ketosis - it is high fat and not high protein after all) and the usual amazing things happened. I cried one morning when I absent mindedly pushed away the remainder of a breakfast omlette made with butter and two eggs, because I was full. I thought to myself: So this is how 'normal' people live? Almost immediately my markers improved, no high blood sugar, brilliant triglyceride to hdl ratio, no inflammation and normal levels of liver enzimes. Plus all my clothes started growing instead of me.
    BUT.And this is a big deal for me. After being a vegetarian for over25 years, I am constantly battling with my conscience. I have always been into environmental issues big time. Am I being selfish by eating this way? Or should I accept this dark side of humanity, that just like carnivorous animals in the wild, humans need animal based foods in their diets? Or at least some of us do. I was talking to one of my above mentioned wafer thin brothers a couple of days ago. He went on a vegetarian diet about 3 years ago and is thinner than ever before. He was complaining to me that as he gets older, he is starting to look more drawn but cannot gain weight. He eats a lot of sugary and starchy foods and the only time he says he looked a bit better was in his 20's when sometimes he would have two big pizzas and four bars of chocolate in a day! Two days of that diet for me and you could have ordered my coffin! A very large one...
    So my conclusion is that the same diet is obviously affecting us all differently. What works for some of us might not for others and until the medical establishment as a whole catches up to this, it remains the patients' responsibility to educate themselves and find what works for them. In the meantime we should still remember that animal wellfare is not a black or white issue. I am still concerned about how my eggs and dairy products are produced, whether the fish I eat comes from polluted and overfished oceans and, if I ever eat meat again, how that animal lived before it was sacrificed to provide me with a meal.
    I think we must carry on searching for answers, always keep an open mind and be willing to admit if we were wrong - which is what I am doing to my vegetarian raised daughters at the moment.
  51. Anthony Michael
    Wow....
    I find it really troubling to come onto posts like this, looking for viable information (of which there is much on this page), only to see people attacking one another and calling them all sorts of horrible things in their hearts.
    Man, I hear about this "utopia" thing that i'm apparently trying to live in, and I encounter this hard, hard attitude that "life sucks, get over it," all the time.
    "Those that have not found happiness will always try to tear yours apart." That's how I feel about this whole argument.
    If a utopia would be a place where we were socially responsible enough as a species to not perpetrate torture, chemical manipulation, and genocide of entire species on this planet, including ourselves, then yeah, I guess that would be a utopia. I see the same argument against the homeless in america: "just get a job". Meanwhile, there are more cars, homes, and food than all of the people in the world with "jobs" can even begin to use. The excess jut rots.
    Sorry to go on a tangent, but your argument is the exact reason nobody here takes any responsibility. "Life sucks, get over it."
    Clearly a way to not take any responsibility for anything at all, and that's certainly a shameful thing.
  52. Chris
    I've been a vegetarian since 1985. It came as a surprise to my friends and relatives, who felt I was rejecting them since eating was one of the groups favorite pastimes. My mother, especially, thought I was crazy. She, of all the persons I associated with, felt totally free to give me her opinions.

    How did it come about? I was 40 years old and had been through a number of emotional crises, such as loved ones dying, favorite pets dying, and abusive personal relationships. Gradually the cruelty in the world was creating in me a desire to get totally off this planet. Remember "Stop the World, I want to get off." ? That was me.

    I developed an enormous aversion to killing and eating animals as well as other changes such as examining my life philosophy, religion, and personal relationships. This was a process - it took several years.

    Meanwhile, as the family cook, I would buy meat for dinner, cook it, and not be able to bear eating it. I would look at whole dead plucked chickens sitting in the roasting pan like little people and just put them in the trash. After doing that 2 or 3 times, I stopped buying any chickens. Red meat had gone before that. I felt more like giving the chickens a decent funeral and burial. Apologize, pray for their souls if they had any. The barbarism of the system came to overwhelm me.

    I ate meat for 40 years and never gave it a second thought, so I don't have any vendetta against people who eat meat. Humans evolved eating meat. The balance of nutrients we need to survive include nutrients from animal sources.

    So I became a vegetarian primarily as an emotional response to the pain and cruelty in the world. And it was a matter of that pain and cruelty first affecting me, personally; and secondarily, making the entire wiring of the world a painful slaughter house. That's nature. It's the system we evolved from and due to what might be called my post traumatic stress disorder, it is a system full of horror to me.

    About the post traumatic stress disorder - terrible experiences in my life brought on generalized anxiety and panic attacks, and some depression. I can see precursors of these conditions in my childhood and my sisters, who live far across the country from me, have been developing variations of anxiety and panic. My parents probably did too. So, the emotional vulnerability was inherited, built in.

    Thus I agree with those who say that emotional sensitivity, or over-sensitivity, drove them to make a number of life changes - among those was becoming vegetarian.

    I have a full appreciation of the other issues that motivate people to become vegetarians, but I have to admit that mine was not an intellectual decision. It was highly emotional -which, of course, does not undercut the common sense value of the vegetarian diet.

    But my vegetarianism did not cause my emotional sensitivities - it was the other way around.

    And then there is the obvious fact that there are vastly more people who have emotional problems who are not vegetarian, than who are. And there are millions of vegetarians who do not have abnormal emotional problems.

    In places like Asia and India being vegetarian comes with the family's/society's culture a lot of the time. It is only in Western culture, where being vegetarian is against custom, that emotional and intellectual leaps produce vegetarians (Western religious groups like the 7th Day Adventists vegetarians not included).

    And something out of the ordinary has happened in a person's emotions or intellect to make them change to vegetarianism.

    If vegetarianism produces any illness, mental or physical, it is due to the West not having any established vegetarian eating habits that have time-tested success in producing good nutrition the way say, India or China, do.

    Most cultures that exist on primarily vegetarian diets, either through belief or poverty/necessity, have evolved systems of eating based on grains (wheat, corn, rice, barley, oats, etc.) and beans (soy beans being the stars), as well as milk, cheese and eggs where available.

    It is very easy for a Western person, who grew up eating meat and goes vegetarian, to simply cut out meat without replacing the nutrients that have been lost.

    The deficiencies that result from insufficient protein and Vit. B-6 and B-12 and calcium will cause thinning hair, weak fingernails, fragile skin, slow healing of wounds, fragile and bent bones, heart problems, and heaven knows what else internally.

    Severe B6 and B12 deficiencies can cause depression - it's a possibility - it's not the primary symptom that will be noticed.

    So I personally keep an eye on my protein and calcium intake, and I take B6 and B12 supplements in addition to a multivitamin.

    It may be true that when you are a young vegetarian, if you eat a balanced diet with a sufficient number of calories, you do not have to worry about getting enough protein. But as you get older, say 40-45 yrs. upwards, you have to cut down on calories or get fat.

    But you still require the same amount of protein - which means that a greater and greater part of your diet needs to be devoted to protein - you need to sneak it into snacks, sandwiches, breakfast, drinks, and desserts. Spread it around, so to speak.

    Well - that is part of my story.

    I do wonder about the harm that seems to be done by the steroids given to cattle, whatever chickens receive, regimens of antibiotics and estrogens for milk production, etc.

  53. Caesar J. B. Squitti
    PREVENTION IS THE BEST OF CURES !

    A little research shows that many important elements like iron, protein and B6, B12, are not easily obtained from a vegetarian diet...NOT EASILY !

    One of the symptoms of low iron, is depression. So why are these simple cause and effects being ignored....well when a health system is based on treating symptoms, and when a health system profits from disorders, instead of good health, (Italy has its doctors paid an annual fee per year that rewards good health) then the system promotes complexity and avoiding the best of cures....PREVENTION !

    Based on the book, "The LIGHT: The Rainbow of Truths...T.J.C.C."

  54. Annmarie Kostyk
    It's so true. In the US, doctors give us pills. No one speaks of diet and lifestyle. Quite frankly, I think it's because they don't know.

    I've learned though reading hundreds of books and articles on diet, lifestyle, deficiencies, and supplements.

  55. Anon
    I've been feeling uncomfortable in my body of late and have been reconsidering going vegan or vegetarian. Whenever I feel like this, I feel like it's a "trigger" to mask what's really going on. I definitely could benefit from less stress and a more balanced diet including more vegetables, less sugar, salt, and less caffeine. I have to remind myself that what works for others may not work for me. Over ten years ago, I went on an adventure to serve for organic farmers, and was cohered into a eating a vegetarian then a vegan diet. I started out asking that I be able to buy meat, because I knew it had a positive effect on my mood, but after a while I felt like maybe they were right and I should "cleanse" and I 'd feel better. I started having mood swings, and at a certain point I completely lost control of my thoughts and emotions. I was erratic. At that point, my host asked me to leave and sent me to a strictly vegan home. I enjoyed the people. It was quite peaceful but they were religious about food, and I began to be even more starving. My hands were cold, I was always cold, and I all wanted to do was make fires. I started to become more and more judgmental about my size. I was losing weight so easily and thought wow, this is great. I started my trip at around 135 pounds, 5'5", which was pretty healthy for me, and came home after 3 months at 100 pounds. I had almost never been that size since middle school. I couldn't give it up! I insisted that I eat raw organic with my family, and it wasn't working! They were confused, and busy and I started to go into a downward slope. Anxiety started to get so bad I couldn't eat at all, and I think I went without eating for a week. It was at this point that I told my parents I didn't think I was okay, and not far after that I was admitted into an eating disorder facility for 40 days. I hated this place because I had to eat conventional food, and still to this day struggle with what is truly healthy. It took me three years to recover in a physical sense, meaning that I was at a normal weight and getting a menstrual cycle. My personal opinion about these extreme vegan diets is that if you are already struggling with mental health and think it might be cool, be aware that there are a lot of fanatics out there that will try to make you feel bad for wanting to eat meat or animal products. I understand that there a lot of poorly treated animals out there, that's why I try to spend a little more for organic meat products and I don't consume a large amount of meat. Chinese medicine supports eating meat, and traditional medicine does as well. I still struggle with balance and would like to eat healthier but don't immediately think that eating an extreme diet such as "raw" vegan or simply vegan is necessarily healthy or balanced.
  56. Anon
    Oh yah, I was extremely low on iron, and I think this is why I became so extremely depressed.
    I think sometimes people that are vegetarian that are low on nutrients are sort of loopy and therefore they feel like they are happy. I remember feeling kind of floaty but I lacked being grounded.
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