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Women who reduce lamb and beef in their diets are more likely to su...

In ARZone, there have got to be some physicians or people who know physicians. I sure hope so, because I'd like to get some informed opinions about the article linked to above. It claims:

"When we looked at women consuming less than the recommended amount of red meat in our study, we found that they were twice as likely to have a diagnosed depressive or anxiety disorder as those consuming the recommended amount.

"Even when we took into account the overall healthiness of the women's diets, as well as other factors such as their socioeconomic status, physical activity levels, smoking, weight and age, the relationship between low red meat intake and mental health remained."

Can this be correct? It sounds incorrect to me, but I'm not a doctor. Help!!

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 It's possible that the Telegraph is misrepresenting the findings and conclusions of the study. Here's another report that seems to offer a different take on it


"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

As I always say, "consider the source" and "follow the money".

Kath, amen to that!

Kath Worsfold said:


"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

As I always say, "consider the source" and "follow the money".

Hi Tim.  I'll try to contact Dr Jacka and talk to her about the research.  I'll let you know if I manage to find out anything.  I suspect that the issue is nutritional, not necessarily about meat.  Protein increases the production of the types of chemicals in the brain leading to feelings of happiness and contentment.  Sorry not being an MD I can't recall specifically the brain chemistry but you can get the same from plant based proteins, like to Sun Warrior raw rice protein that I take sometimes as a supplement when I'm in a hurry.  I might see if she'd be interested in doing some research on a vegan diet.  Certainly I'd look at the Forks over Knives documentary, which came to the conclusion that a whole food plant based diet is the healthiest. 

Seratonin I think that was it.

Kerry, you are so much nicer and politer than I am. LOL

According to this passage, it wasn't just a matter of protein:

"Interestingly, there was no relationship between other forms of protein, such as chicken, pork, fish or plant-based proteins, and mental health.

If it is sheerly nutritional, maybe it's Omega-3s:

"We know that red meat in Australia is a healthy product as it contains high levels of nutrients, including the Omega-3 fatty acids that are important to mental and physical health," she said.

"This is because cattle and sheep in Australia are largely grass fed. In many other countries, the cattle are kept in feedlots and fed grains, rather than grass. This results in a much less healthy meat with more saturated fat and fewer healthy fats."

But eating too much red meat could be as bad for mental health as not eating enough.The Australian government recommends eating 65 -100g of lean, red meat three to four times a week.

"We found that regularly eating more than the recommended amount of red meat was also related to increased depression and anxiety,"

and that other article sounded like it referenced a completely different study!

Here are a couple of links on studies that say the opposite. These can be found on Dr. Greger's website:

Even if reducing lamb and beef results in depression, it should not mean that our health trumps the health of other animals


I received this reply from Dr Felice Jacka today.  NHMRC is the National Health & Medical Research Council, which I don't think you'd be able to exactly label as pro vegan.

Hi Kerry

Thanks for your interest. I fully understand where you are coming from - I grew up as a vegetarian and didn't start eating meat until a few years ago (partly as a result of my research findings!). I was even a vegan for quite a while. So I am fully cognisant of all of the ethical and environmental issues around meat consumption.

I am not advocating meat consumption and I know that one can have very good health on a vegan diet; the reason we thought it important to publish this study is that it may tell us something about depression, bipolar and anxiety disorders that we haven't known previously. Depression imposes the largest burden of illness in the developed world and seems to be increasing. As such, we urgently need to understand how and why it happens so that we can intervene.

This particular study is not saying that one causes the other (you would know that correlation does not equal causation) and it needs to be extensively replicated before we can make recommendations. We are working with researchers in other countries to examine this relationship in different populations. However, it may just be a fluke finding that is not reproducible and we are advocating caution in interpretation. I also extensively discuss the problems with intensive cattle farming in feedlots and advocate for grass fed cattle - so it's a useful opportunity to argue for better agricultural practices, which I think are key.

I am intrigued by this finding and wonder if it's related to evolutionary biology. In any case, to allay your fears - it was not funded by the meat and livestock board, but the NHMRC, and is part of a much larger study looking at lifestyle as a contributor to the common mental disorders.

All the best


Hi Tim


I'm not a medic but I am a clinician in a clinical psychology department in the NHS.  I've treated patients with depression for more years than I care to remember.  None of my patients with depression have been vegans.  Off the top of my head I would estimate that 99% of them were/are meat eaters.


I am not familiar with the research you have quoted and it bears no significance in current clinical psychology practise.  The variables that are quoted at the end are very limited and exclude lots of other factors that have a bearing on our mood.  Personally I think the hypothesis is rather odd.  One could just as easily look at how many peas someone with depression ate and compare that with a control group of non-depressed people and come up with some kind of conclusion.  My guess is that there are lots of flaws in the research including sample size and the exclusion of other variables.  You can often make research say whatever you want it too and I suspect that's what's been done here.

What Tucker said--and by the author's own admission "it may just be a fluke finding that is not reproducible and we are advocating caution in interpretation." In other words, the press release may have been a little premature!

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