Women’s Health Magazine has recently published an article speculating that going vegetarian could make women go “out of their minds.” According to this article, while some women can be veg with no problem, others must eat some “animal protein,” be it the flesh of dismembered animals (including fishes) or their manipulated and stolen bodily fluids. Otherwise, they claim, their mental health is at risk.
After my initial four-word reaction – what the actual f*ck? – I quickly remembered something I've learned from writing various earnest articles about why veganism is an urgent social justice issue, many of which took months to complete, and then spending half a day quickly penning a satirical piece “Our Vegan Diet Almost Killed Us – No, Really.” Guess which piece went viral with well over half a million views and over a thousand comments? Yep. The one with the anthropocentric title appearing to be anti-vegan.
Most people who have been raised to believe they are entitled to exploit certain animals for their pleasure and convenience (as I once did) are NOT looking for reasons to stop doing so. People hate change and they don’t like to acknowledge contributing to the misery of others. They are more often looking for ammunition to not go vegan, despite all the undeniable ethical, environmental, health, and humanitarian reasons to do so, which are piling up by the minute these days. In publishing this article, Women’s Health is simply baiting people with confirmation of the pro-meat bias most of their writers, readers, and advertisers share and that will get them lots of views, because more views make their advertisers happy and everyone makes more money. So far, it's working; CBS news is even reporting on the article.
Seeing as vegans are still in the (rapidly-growing) minority, it’s not hard to find people willing to speculate on the myth that some special people must eat “animal protein,” including the psychologist they interviewed. (And here are a million reasons why the go-to anti-veg gal Lierre Keith, references in the piece, is full of the same bullshit that is polluting our waterways more than all other industries combined per Greenpeace.)
Speculation vs. Consensus
Although it’s an often-repeated opinion that humans are “supposed to” consume the flesh and fluids of whichever non-human animals our culture has designated for this purpose, it’s a fact that we simply don’t have to.
This fact is confirmed by the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), whose official position is that vegan diets are healthful and appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle. All their international counterparts have similar positions on veganism. In fact, the amount of medical and dietetic associations who claim any human must include animal products in their diet to be healthy for any reason whatsoever are exactly zero. No exceptions.
If you’re not getting enough iron, eat more iron-rich plant food. If you’re not getting enough calories, eat more calorie-rich plant foods. If you’re not getting enough B12, take a harmless supplement. If you really think you must eat the flesh of an animal, then your dog or cat should be fair game and will make an excellent lunch roast. He or she is humanely raised and local. If you’re not willing to eat your dog or cat to get this magical “animal protein” supposedly needed for your brain to work properly, you are acting in a way that is illogical and morally inconsistent.
Ignorance is Bliss
So what if, hypothetically, it were true that there is a real connection between vegetarianism and depression in some way? As we all know, ignorance is bliss. As with any other social injustice, socially aware people learning about the horrors of animal agriculture and needless killing on a mass scale open a door to learning horrible things they can’t unlearn, which can feel confusing and alienating in the face of the oblivious indifference toward and trivialization of the nightmarish atrocities most of our friends and families insist on contributing to.
But, as a friend on Facebook pointed out, eating the victims won't help.
Another person commented, “Personally, my mood issues decreased once I became vegan, partly because I was no longer going against my own principles.” Psychologist Marion Rollings shared, “As a psychologist and long time vegan, I can unequivocally state that a vegetarian diet will not make you crazy.”
Proteinaholic author Dr. Garth Davis has also reacted with indignation to the original study being referenced by this article, pointing out on his Facebook page that the study looked at a group of 3,872 Germans, 54 being vegetarians, but didn’t explain whether that meant they were still eating dairy, eggs, fish, or even chicken as many so-called “vegetarians” do. But the real kicker is that their research shows that these people developed these symptoms before they went vegetarian. He concluded the study is worthless but makes great fodder for the press.
In closing, the ever-articulate Robert Grillo of Free From Harm calls pieces like this: “A classic example of the backlash that happens whenever a social movement gains a bit of ground and threatens the dominant culture which makes personal attacks on the character of the messengers of the cause, dismissing them as ‘crazy’ or ‘mentally ill.’” Please read his brief but powerful article "Shooting the Messenger" for more on this topic.
And check out this collection of articles from Dr. McDougall on how plant-based diets can help with depression and mental disorders.
Remember, some of the greatest minds of our time were and are vegetarian, including Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, and Nicola Tesla.
Thanks for reading, and please leave your thoughts below!
By Lorelei Plotczyk