As of 2006, 14.6 percent of Americans don’t eat seafood, 7.6 percent don’t eat dairy, 23.4 percent don’t eat honey, and 6.3 percent don’t eat poultry. (Now, this poll was taken by the FDA before the release of Bee Movie, so who’s to say how Americans feel about bees now. )
And of all Americans, 6.7 percent abstain from eating meat. That’s a sizeable portion of the population. And although there are inherent physical health benefits to dropping meat from the menu, a new study has shown that this might be at the price of vegetarians’ mental health.
A new study from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom found that vegetarians and vegans are more likely to develop depression due to a lower intake of vitamin B12 and other minerals commonly found in red meat (here are some other nutrients vegetarians and vegans are likely to missing as well). B12 plays a key role in keeping an individual’s mood in balance.
The study analyzed the mental health of 10,000 participants and found that the 350 vegetarians who participated in the study had a depression score twice as high as their meat-eating counterparts .
Outside of the B12 deficient diet, vegetarians also tend to have diets which contain higher intake of nuts containing omega-6 fatty acids, which have also been linked to greater risk of mental health issues, according to CBS New York.
If you’re thinking of going vegetarian, here are some helpful ways to get there—just be sure you actively find ways to add protein to your diet, and look for ways to incorporate all of the nutrients you need.