Vegetarian Benefits For Your State of Mind

pasta with wild garlic

There are many vegetarian benefits we could talk about.

Here is an article on a lesser-known benefit of being vegetarian. It's to do with your sense of optimism - or lack of it. So many people are affected by depression and low moods. Even children and adolescents are not immune; as many as 11% of young Americans between 13 and 18 experience depression, according to the National Institute of Medical Health.

Becoming vegetarian might just be an answer for some people.

Picture: Pasta with wild garlic (ramsons)

Living more lightly...

Adopting a vegetarian lifestyle is a way to ensure we live more lightly on the planet. This site is all about easy green living options and vegetarianism is one such option. It seems that a vegetarian diet may also contribute to an increased sense of optimism - something we could use in these stressful times!

Vegetarianism is a great way to eat and the health benefits are reasonably well known and understood. This article only looks at those briefly, after a discussion of some recent research on mental health and vegetarianism. 

One good reason to be vegetarian

Here's a little about a study which showed that vegetarians tend to be relatively mentally well-adjusted and not prone to depression. This is despite some indicators which might suggest otherwise.

Arizona State University did a cross-sectional study to compare the mood of vegetarians who never eat fish with the mood of healthy omnivorous adults.

The vegetarians in the study presented with less negative emotional states than the non-vegetarians. Interestingly, all the vegetarians were non-fish eaters. Fish is a source of long-chain omega-3s eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, which are thought to have a bearing on state of mind, as well as other health benefits.

However, the vegetarians in the study were found to have a good intake of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid and omega-6 linoleic acid, which might very well account for their good scores for mood and mental buoyancy.

Omega 3s and seed oils

Seed oils are an excellent source of linolenic acid, including practically all the seed oils often found in health food shops, such as rapeseed (canola), soybeans oil, walnut oil, flaxseed (Linseed oil), clary sage seeds, perilla, chia, and hemp.

The vegetarians in the study reported significantly less negative emotion than the omnivores.

The scientists involved in the study also noted that the vegetarians might well be making better, more informed dietary choices than many of the others in the study - leading them to be both healthier and happier.

For more information on this study please see this Nutritional Journal article.

The findings of the above study were broadly supported by this 2009 study: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Other vegetarian benefits

There are loads of other health benefits associated with being - or becoming vegetarian.

Here's a run down of some of the main ones.

Avoiding heart disease

Vegetarians are less prone to heart disease. This is in part because the diet tends to be lower in cholesterol forming foods and hard fats.

However, vegetarians who consume a diet which has a high proportion of cheeses and other sources of hard fats may still be at similar risk to non-vegetarians. One of the chief benefits of a vegetarian diet is that most people end up eating just more fruit and vegetables. Many of these foods have a protective role to play.

Vegetarians are also more likely than meat eaters to maintain a healthy blood pressure. High blood pressure is a contributory cause of heart problems.

Fruits and vegetables help maintain healthy blood which is less likely to flow sluggishly. Many meat eaters simply do not get enough natural plant fibre in their diets.

Vegetarianism and avoiding cancer

Cancer's causes are many and it is not true to say that eating meat causes cancer. The truth is far more complex. But fruit and vegetables offer a considerable degree of protection against cancer; vegetarians tend to eat diets which are high in these protective foods.

Certainly a diet which is high in meat and animal fats is not a health promoting diet.  It is especially dangerous for those people whose lifestyle is largely sedentary. 

It is entirely possible to eat a high fat and high calorie diet which is vegetarian. Many cancers have been linked to diets high in saturated fats and sugar.

If you want to avoid these diseases altogether it makes sense to eat a healthy diet which is either vegetarian or which contains meat in only small amounts. Many peasant diets from around the world repay some study.

See a healthy living diet for more on this.

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Vitality - another vegetarian benefit

For those vegetarians who have studied their diet and learned to choose plenty of good complex carbohydrates with a plentiful supply of fruit and vegetables, the route is clear to great vitality and energy.

I meet so many people who's energy is poor. Very often they are meat eaters. If you do eat meat, make it less - and less often. You will almost certainly reap a dividend in terms of energy and vitality. Vegetarians are perhaps more likely to have found the way to good energy levels because they are not clogging up their systems with over-rich, over-fatty, high protein foods.

If you doubt this, just try going for a day without any significant protein but eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. You will almost certainly notice your energy levels bounce!

Vegetarian benefits - and dangers

One of the main benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle is increased health and vitality. However, if you become a lazy vegetarian diner, it's entirely possible to still eat in a way that destroys your health. Many people, for example are intolerant of dairy foods and a good many vegetarians tend to be over-reliant on the convenience of cheese with everything.

A vegetarian diet does not need to be boring as there is a wealth of exciting and appetizing menus and recipes on offer in books and websites. There are many kinds of fake meat, too, for those who feel that somehow they are missing out on the meat-eating experience. (Mind, you, I can't say I rate too many of them myself - but then I am not a vegetarian, but rather an occasional meat eater.)

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If you want to experiment with vegetarian benefits for yourself and your family, there are plenty of vegetarian recipes in the Green Recipe Book.


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Benefits of a Vegan Diet

A Healthy Living Diet

The Nutritional Benefits of Fish

Happy Pills - or a Happy Lifestyle?


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