Vegetarianism may have a downside

By 12. March 2014Blog, Health, Nutrition

Vegetarians in Austria are more likely to be in a poorer state of health and have a lower quality of life compared to meat eaters. That was one of the surprise findings in a paper published in the journal PLOS last month.

The researchers set out to investigate dietary habits in Austria and how these affected health. A total of 1320 people were interviewed for the study, 330 in each group which were: vegetarian diet, carnivorous diet rich in fruits and vegetables, carnivorous diet less rich in meat and a carnivorous rich in meat. The vegetarians also included people who consumed milk, eggs and fish.

First the good news, vegetarians did, on average, have a lower BMI and consumed less alcohol than the other groups.  But here comes the sting, the vegetarians reported a poorer state of health than the other groups and greater impairment due to the poor state of health. They were also more likely to have allergies, cancer and mental health ailments. Still, it’s not all bad, people who ate a diet rich in meat reported a higher incidence of incontinence than the other groups.

What do the findings from this study truly show? Well, that is a big question, did the vegetarians have higher incidences of these problems because of their dietary habits? Or did they change their dietary habits in the first place due to a feeling of ill health? One thing is for sure, a lot more research is needed in this area.

The paper is available for download from the PLOS website