Vegetarianism is bad for you…
Population-based studies have consistently shown that our diet has an influence on health – a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is recommended.
But some people go overboard and just eat meat. Or just eat vegetables. Evidence for health benefits of exclusive diets is scant. Vegetarians are considered healthier, they are wealthier, they are more liberal, they drink less alcohol and they smoke less – but those are a lot of variables in health that don’t necessarily result from being a vegetarian.
A cross-sectional study taken from the Austrian Health Interview Survey AT-HIS 2006/07 found that vegetarians are actually less healthy than normal eaters. Subjects were matched according to their age, sex, and socioeconomic status leaving 1320 people – 330 vegetarians, 330 that ate meat but still a lot of fruits and vegetables, 300 normal eaters but that ate less meat, and 330 on a more carnivorous diet.
After controlling for variables, they found that vegetarians did have lower BMI and alcohol consumption but had poorer overall health. Vegetarians had higher incidences of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders, a higher need for health care, and poorer quality of life.
As a result, vegetarians take more medications than non-vegetarians.
Now, as the article points out, this is just one study and, if anything is certain in life and science, there will be other studies showing just the opposite.
Still, this is one of those moments that gives me way too much satisfaction. There is an annoying subset of vegetarians (1) who take their dietary choice as a sign of their moral superiority. Not all, of course; some are vegetarian for religious or health reasons. But, there is that smug faction, and shoving a grapefruit in their face is a temptation I cannot resist.
Yes, I am weak.
And I take my steak on the rare side of medium-rare. Don’t want to get cancer and go insane, after all.
(1) And bicyclists. No, you do not in fact own the road and the sidewalk.