Those of us who happen to live entirely vegetarian diets typically regale our meat-eating friends with stories of how happy we are and how good we feel. While this can be annoying, why exactly do we typically tend to have better moods throughout life? Is it just the idea that we’re eating healthy and sticking to our principles? Well, it might be that, sure, but science may have another explanation. Apparently, a vegetarian diet can actually affect your mood, in a good way.
Recently, a study published by National Journal sought to reveal some insights about the mood differences between vegetarians, meat-eaters, and pescatarians (vegetarians who eat fish). Apparently, the typical human with a fully omnivorous diet has high levels of arachidonic acid (AA), a chemical that can play a part in how one’s mood will shift. According to science, eicosapentaenic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are supposed to reduce the downside of AA, so those who eat fish (high is EPA and DHA) should therefore have better moods, right?
The test took 39 subjects and split them into three groups of 13 each. The first group was told to eat meat, fish, and poultry every day, so essentially a normal diet for the most part (though how many people have surf, sky, and turf all in the same day?). The second group was told to eat no meat except fish at a rate of 3-4 times a week. The last group consisted of just vegetarians.
Here’s where things get fun and sciency. Each group was told to assess their moods after two weeks on their diet and while the fish-eating group showed definite increase in their EPA and DHA intakes, there was no difference in moods between them and the meat-eaters group. Both of them felt the same after two weeks, but when the vegetarian group was asked about their moods they had a definite improvement over their previous conditions.
As with all fun scientific reports, the conclusion makes a great sweeping claim, in this case being “Reducing meat, fish, and poultry may improve some domains of short-term mood state in modern omnivores.” But hey, we already knew that, right? Further study is certainly needed, but when it comes down to it we know that we feel better on a daily basis for a multitude of reasons, and only one of them has to do with AA, EPA, and DHA. At the very least we don’t have to be smug about it. “My diet just makes me feel happier because of science of course.” Thanks science!