Friday, December 15, 2006

Vegetarians Get the Last Laugh

I've been a vegetarian for 20 years (for health / environmental / ethical reasons) and I don't miss meat at all (my diet isn't all that veg and fruit rich however). I really don't like the taste of meat or poultry. I'm not a true vegetarian, I started eating fish while pregnant with Elliot because I was worried about getting enough iron and protein. Now I eat fish a few times a year in high end restaurants.

I made the decision to not raise the boys vegetarian because it's hard enough to feed kids. I say nothing about the fact that I don't eat meat because I don't want them to turn off from the whole food group. However it does seem strange that my 5 year old doesn't know anything about it. Danny gave up vegetarianism a few years ago and says he feels healthier, he's tried to get me to change my veg diet several times. Fish was my compromise, but I can take it or leave it. It seems like I'm always running into ex-vegetarians and ex-vegans (I can't see how anyone could stay vegan for long). I know only a handful of vegetarians. Well this British study gives us vegetarians vindication for any ridicule we may have endured over the years. Ha!

Study Finds Vegetarians Smarter
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?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Today I ran into someone who considered himself a vegetarian and he eats chicken and fish. That's not a vegetarian!