Vegetarians more prone to depression, suggest study

The researchers don’t assert that being vegetarian causes depression. Instead, they’re suggesting a link between plant-based diets and mental health. The primary theory for this link is that vegetarians receive fewer nutrients found in red meat, vitamin B12 specifically, and that could contribute to depressive symptoms

Vegetarians more prone to depression, suggest study

A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders concludes that vegetarians have more depressive symptoms than non-vegetarians due to nutritional deficiencies like iron.

‘Nutritional deficiencies may account for these findings, but reverse causation and residual confounding cannot be ruled out’ it concluded. The study was conducted among 9,668 husbands of pregnant women and all of who were either vegans or vegetarians.

“I agree with the study to some extent because iron deficiency is one of the known causes for depression although not the only factor. There are other socio-economic parameters that influence the emotion of depression,” said Pooja Udeshi, Sports nutritionist and certified diabetes educator and practicing at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital.

She further said, “Haemoglobin absorption is also affected in case of iron deficiency. Hypothyroidism is also one causative factor for depression and hence, the biochemical parameters can be checked with the study group. However, an observational study can be conducted on similar group of people with signs of depression by providing them food or supplement that release serotonin. That way, a better conclusion can be achieved.”


The debate about vegetarians vs non-vegetarians is not new. However, some experts chose to differ, “Anaemia is more common in vegetarians as compared to depression. There are scientific studies which prove that vegetarians are more prone to iron, zinc and vitamin B 12 deficiency. But by taking a balanced and adequate meals deficiencies can be kept at bay,” said Dr Ankita Ghag, clinical nutritionist, Vacchan Aarogya and diabetes care 365.

“Also studies say, non-vegetarians are more prone to lifestyle disorder like diabetes, hypertension , heart disorders are and are more prone to chronic diseases causing depression because of these diseases in the long run,” she added