A vegetarian is someone who chooses to avoid the consumption of food stuffs derived from animals, occasionally with exception of dairy and sometimes fish. Vegetarianism is somewhat subjective but what is clear is that vegetarians generally avoid meat and eggs, consuming more fruit, veg and wholegrain products. Consequently their diets are often lower in saturated and trans fats leading to a consensus of opinion that vegetarians are healthier than non-vegetarians. However the study conducted at the Medical University of Graz in Austria has suggested that vegetarians are actually less healthy than meat-eaters, despite them drinking less alcohol, smoking less, and partaking in more physical activity!
This is of course only one study, and we know not to take the findings of one study in isolation, however this study used 1320 subjects relative to their age, gender and socioeconomic status and included 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 meat-heavy diet. The general findings were that vegetarians consumed less alcohol and had lower BMI’s, but despite this were seen to be in an overall poorer state of physical and mental health. The researchers state:
“Our study has shown that Austrian adults who consume a vegetarian diet are less healthy (in terms of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), have a lower quality of life, and also require more medical treatment.”
This is a bold assertion, but the findings are interesting and pave the way for future research in this area.
The Independent, (2014). Vegetarians are 'less healthy and have a lower quality of life than meat-eaters', scientists say. Retrieved 8th April, 2014, from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/vegetarians-are-less-healthy-and-have-a-lower-quality-of-life-than-meateaters-scientists-say-9236340.html