Animal Rights Zone

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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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Does anyone know who funded this study? Was it the meat industry? data can easily be manipulated to support what ever claim they are looking for. As Dr. Greger said in the video posts above, Aracidonic Acid irritates the brain and causes inflammation in the body. I don't know any vegans who suffer depression and we know a lot of other vegans (Very large, strong community in the Boston area). I do know quite a few depressed meat eaters.

Kerry, 

Thank you for publishing Dr. Jacka's response, it's good to get that clarification. As usual, the press has done what it is very adept at, which is to reduce complex matters to uninformative soundbites of little or no value.

Tucker, thank you for adding your perspective.

Much of the problem with these kinds of research is that the media firstly doesn't generally take all the article says and reports it, but picks a couple of points to get noticed which in this case has given the opposite impression to what I think was intended.  The other problem is that while we would like the important issues of health and AR to be tackled with genuine honesty, in fact it's highly political because as we all know the meat industry is akin to the tobacco industry, it's so powerful.  And while Dr Jacka stated no meat industry funding was involved, I am nevertheless suspicious of any government health body overseeing these types of research because they will have government policy in mind.  In Australia, while we weathered the GFC very well compared to other countries, the fact is that there is no more that can be done if an impending second crisis should happen.  So to start demonstrating what meat consumption does to you will create concern about another industry in crisis.  This is why our government failed so dramatically to do anything much about the plight of animals in the live animal export trade.  The very agencies that should be promoting plant-based diets are the ones that fail miserably because of industry pressure.  Just how much 'independence' is there in research remains a difficult point.  If you watch Forks Over Knives for example, the Cornell based researchers there paid dearly for their findings.  It just makes our message that much harder to get out there.

Thanks for writing the author, Kerry!  I love how she signed off w/her first name :)

Her response says it all for me--that it's simply one finding that is interesting enough to warrant further exploration.  In fact, I think the Telegraph did a good job of explaining the research, even going so far as to include that eating more than the recommended amount also was correlated w/increased depression/anxiety.  Of course, it could have made more of the fact that you can't make general recommendations based on one study.  And the title should have had a question mark at the end.  However, it does a relatively good job, considering the state of the media.

Of course, even if there were a demonstrable connection between red meat consumption and a lower risk of depression, I doubt if many vegans would give up being vegan.  It's just that it's useful to know the details, so we can point out the falsehoods that will undoubtedly spring up!

Also, I'm surprised that more people don't know more depressed vegans.  My impression has always been that animal rights advocates are slightly more likely to be depressed.  At least half of the vegans I know (online) are dealing with some significant degree of it.

Susan, I'm not sure how you are defining depression.  I was referring to diagnosed clinical depression which is very different to feeling sad at times.  Your reply implies that at least half of the vegans you've met online have written about their mood.  Surely this can't be the case - or did you mean something else?

Being vegan for reasons of compassion for animals does require that you become inured to be able to deal with the cruelty that is so often in our faces.  But that isn't the same thing as depression I agree.  However, if there are any vegans out there with depression they can address that by eating foods high in tryptophan which is a pre-cursor to dopamine.  Kale, quinoa and especially savi seeds are excellent sources.  As meat is highly acidic and has nothing I'm aware of that affects mood, I anticipate that further research will debunk many of these myths about the benefits of consuming meat.  I suggest watching Forks Over Knives, and excellent documentary.

I define depression as a persistent state--involving sadness, feelings of worthlessness, guilt, lack of pleasure,etc.--that affects daily functioning.  The communities I'm familiar with are sometimes tight enough that people share such personal details.  There are the familiar struggles finding treatment, whether it's an effective medication, or something that doesn't have a history of animal experimentation, or an affordable source.  For some folks it's a chronic problem, for others it's much more episodic.  For others, it may not be clinical depression, but it's a significant enough that it causes them anxiety.

I'm very open about my own experiences with refractory severe depression, so it may be that more people open up to me.  But even in more casual, anonymous places, it's not uncommon for someone to mention it in the background.  That's why I say I'm surprised.

Well, now none of you all can claim not to know any depressed vegans.  Sorry Tumeria!  (unless you're only counting people you know IRL, or as more than fellow forum members).   In the years since I've been vegan, though, I think I've been dealing more with the behaviors learned while living severely depressed than with depression itself, which seems better controlled now.  And I do eat a lot of kale quite regularly!

Tucker said:

Susan, I'm not sure how you are defining depression.  I was referring to diagnosed clinical depression which is very different to feeling sad at times.  Your reply implies that at least half of the vegans you've met online have written about their mood.  Surely this can't be the case - or did you mean something else?

Hi Susan

I'm sorry to hear of your problems.  You've mentioned that you've tried medications but have you ever had cognitive behavioural therapy?  Numerous studies have shown its effectiveness in treating both depression and anxiety and as a practioner myself I can vouch for it too.  I don't know where you are based - I'm guessing not in England where it is free on the NHS.  If you are unable to get it where you are, it may be worth getting a treatment manual.  All prescribed medications are tested on animals not to mention there are political reasons for prescribing, and of course they all have their side effects.

Fortunately, nobody has ever suggested that meds alone would do much for me, it was more that they would make therapeutic work possible.  CBT has been certainly been part of my therapy, but it mostly in finding ways to cope.  Undoing deeper issues took more psychoanalysis.  Thanks for checking. :)

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