In April 2019, the peer-reviewed journal Ethnicity & Health published a study by 4 American researchers, who had found a connection between depression and vegetarianism.
The researchers analyzed the data of nearly 900 South Asians between the ages of 40 and 83 and living in the United States. They specifically noted the dietary habits and depression symptoms of participants. They split the participants into two groups: the vegetarian group (those who hadn’t eaten fish, poultry, or other meats for a year) and non-vegetarians.
What the researchers discovered was that compared to the non-vegetarian group, those who didn’t eat meat had 43% lower odds of depression.
Citing additional studies, the researchers went on to theorize that the vegetarian diet may protect against depression because
“a vegetarian diet is generally characterized by higher intakes of grains, vegetables, nuts, beans, and legumes, and therefore can be rich in antioxidant nutrients, folate, phytochemicals and fiber.”
They go on to cite a 2015 study that found that diets high in fibre were connected to lower incident depression. A 2017 study reported that participants with depression has lower folate intake. And a 2018 study claimed that vegetarians ate foods with more fibre, folate, antioxidants (such as vitamin C), and some minerals (such as thiamin, calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc), all of which play roles in mental health.
This is one more study in a growing body of research showing a connection between what we eat and our mental health. Here at Truehope, we’ve been promoting nutrition as mental health treatment for over 20 years.