Humans are natural omnivores. Some of us choose for ethical or health reasons to forego our natural diets to become vegetarians. We are the only species in the known universe that would so do, which is one of the things that make us exceptional.
A new study out of Austria has now cast doubt on a claim often made by vegetarian proselytizers that one should forego meat and animal products for health reasons. From the study:
Overall, vegetarians are in a poorer state of health compared to the other dietary habit groups. Concerning self-reported health, vegetarians differ from each of the other reported groups toward poorer health.
Moreover, these subjects report higher levels of impairment from disorders. Vegetarians additionally report more chronic diseases than those eating a carnivorous diet less rich in meat. Significantly more vegetarians suffer from allergies, cancer, and mental health ailments (anxiety, or depression) than the other dietary habit groups (Table 3).
Subjects who eat a carnivorous diet rich in meat more often report urinary incontinence. No differences between individuals consuming different forms of diet were found regarding their vascular risk.
The study doesn’t claim that vegetarianism causes these poorer outcomes. But one could imagine that varying significantly from a natural diet wouldn’t be the best for one’s health over the long term.
I have never believed that we are ethically required to engage in practices contrary to our biological natures. If people want to, great. It is like monastics taking a vow of celibacy. Voluntary, not required.
In any event, it is food for thought. (Yes, I know some studies are contrary, so don’t yell at me!)