Vegetarian Brains

Health & Happiness — POSTED BY Michael Carmichael on June 30, 2010 at 8:41 am

Vegetarians are more intelligent, says study

Posted by Tino Verducci from The Future is Vegan

Frequently dismissed as cranks, their fussy eating habits tend to make them unpopular with dinner party hosts and guests alike.

But now it seems they may have the last laugh, with research showing vegetarians are more intelligent than their meat-eating friends.

A study of thousands of men and women revealed that those who stick to a vegetarian diet have IQs that are around five points higher than those who regularly eat meat.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, the researchers say it isn’t clear why veggies are brainier – but admit the fruit and veg-rich vegetarian diet could somehow boost brain power.

The researchers, from the University of Southampton, tracked the fortunes of more than 8,000 volunteers for 20 years.

At the age of ten, the boys and girls sat a series of tests designed to determine their IQ.

When they reached the age of 30, they were asked whether they were vegetarian and their answers compared to their childhood IQ score.

Around four and a half per cent of the adults were vegetarian – a figure that is broadly in line with that found in the general population.

However, further analysis of the results showed those who were brainiest as children were more likely to have become vegetarian as adults, shunning both meat and fish.

The typical adult veggie had a childhood IQ of around 105 – around five points higher than those who continued to eat meat as they grew up.

The vegetarians were also more likely to have gained degrees and hold down high-powered jobs.

There was no difference in IQ between strict vegetarians and those who classed themselves as veggie but still ate fish or chicken.

However, vegans – vegetarians who also avoid dairy products – scored significantly lower, averaging an IQ score of 95 at the age of 10.

Researcher Dr Catharine Gale said there could be several explanations for the findings, including intelligent people being more likely to consider both animal welfare issues and the possible health benefits of a vegetarian diet.

Previous work has shown that vegetarians tend to have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol, cutting their risk of heart attacks. They are also less likely to be obese.

Alternatively, a diet which is rich in fruit, vegetables and wholegrains may somehow boost brain power.

Dr Gale said: ‘Although our results suggest that children who are more intelligent may be more likely to become vegetarian as adolescents or young adults, it does not rule out the possibility that such a diet might have some beneficial effect on subsequent cognitive performance.

‘Might the nature of the vegetarians’ diet have enhanced their apparently superior brain power? Was this the mechanism that helped them achieve the disproportionate nature of degrees?’

High-profile vegetarians include singers Paul McCartney and Morrissey and actress Jenny Seagrove.

Past exponents of a meat-free lifestyle include George Bernard Shaw and Benjamin Franklin.

Promoting the cause, Shaw said, ‘A mind of the calibre of mine cannot drive its nutriment from cows’, while Franklin stated that a vegetarian diet resulted in ‘greater clearness of head and quicker comprehension’.

Liz O’Neill, of the Vegetarian Society, said: ‘We’ve always known that vegetarianism is an intelligent, compassionate choice benefiting animals, people and the environment. Now, we’ve got the scientific evidence to prove it.

‘Maybe that explains why many meat-reducers are keen to call themselves vegetarians when even they must know that vegetarians don’t eat chicken, turkey or fish!’

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  • promoocodes says:

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  • diogena says:

    I’m with dsohei and schobiz. For over twenty years of my adult life, I ate first according to a wholesome organic complex carb vegetarian diet and soon after eliminated all dairy and eggs. Little did I know the reason I felt good for awhile was that I was running on adrenaline because I was starved for protein and animal fat, as was confirmed by a naturopathic doctor. Once my adrenals exhausted, I crashed and developed severe hypoglycemia. To remedy the problem, I was prescribed a hunter gatherer diet and EFA supplementation. It has taken me over ten years to finally get over the reactive hypoglycemia problem that according to my naturopathic MD was directly caused by my longterm vegetarian diet. After one year on the hunter gatherer diet, I stopped catching respiratory infections. After ten years on a hunter gatherer diet, all of a sudden my cognitive abilities skyrocketed. Even though I was then a middle aged adult, I was able to teach myself computer languages and learn to play button accordion. While I was vegetarian, I never had the brain power to cogitate complex computer languages or musical instruments that required so much lateral independence. If you sit on the fence about converting to vegetarianism, read more at Read Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions.

  • schobiz says:

    Liz O’Neill, of the Vegetarian Society, said: ‘We’ve always known that vegetarianism is an intelligent, compassionate choice benefiting animals, people and the environment. Now, we’ve got the scientific evidence to prove it.”

    This statement is ridiculous. Is a vegetarian who eats corn and soy based products that originated from industrial mono-crop cultures contributing to the well being of the planet? Every time you till or disturb the soil, you are wrecking thousands of tiny little ecosystems and organisms. Releasing sequestered carbon into the atmosphere and degrading the topsoil that’s accumulated over hundreds of years. That’s right. Agriculture alone is very DESTRUCTIVE to the environment. As for human health, we are omnivores, and our brains LOVE animal fat. We didn’t evolve to eat sugars (grains). If you look at primitive people and tribes who have remained on a local diet consisting of mostly animal protein, you will find little to no evidence of cancer, heart disease, tooth decay, etc. And for the health of the environment? We NEED animals. We need their bones and blood. We need their droppings. We need them to express their evolutionary distinctiveness, and while they perform theirs, we will in turn perform ours. And eat them.

    The decision is not as simple as eating meat or not eating meat. There are too many variables to consider, and we have the information now to be more specific with our decisions. Anyone who claims otherwise is ignoring the big picture. We are creatures of this planet, and whether you accept it or not, nature is one big cycle of one creature eating another. We can promote the health of humans, animals, the planet, AND eat meat at the same time.

  • String says:

    This is an interesting article, having returned to semi-vegetarianism about four years back (I do eat fish). I have been comparing the difference in my critical reasoning to a time when I ate more meat. There may be something to the lack of consumption of certain substances in ‘ordinary food’, such as food additives, hormones, pesticides, and herbicides. Some of us, who also attempt to eat organic, do notice a difference in cognitive function. So is it meat or is it additives? I ate mostly organic meat for the five years before shifting my diet and I do notice a distinct difference but I am not sure if it is cognitive or emotional, or indeed if these two can be separated.

  • David Luke says:

    Wow, that’s an enlightened reply dsohei, I guess you eat meat right?

  • dsohei says:

    wow, what horseshitte. of course almost anyone would be smarter/healthier than people eating a Standard american diet consisting of factory-farmed meat. do the same study against people eating local, organic grass fed foods. if everyone went vegan our race would be sterile within 5 generations or less.

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