I’ve always maintained that a balanced diet including healthy meats, seafood, and dairy is a basic tenet of good physical—and mental—health.
On the flip side, numerous modern studies suggest that those who follow a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle—and cut out whole categories of healthy foods—are more prone to suffering from anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.
There’s also widespread concern about the association between vegan/vegetarian diets and eating disorders or nutritional deficiencies. And this problem may only grow worse in the years to come, as big food manufacturers continue to push their highly profitable yet overly processed, plant-based, imitation products.
(As I’ve said before, somehow, big food manufacturers have managed to convince millions of Americans that their so-called “plant-based,” fake “meats,” nut milks, and imitation cheeses are healthy…when they’re really just a disaster for human health!)
So, today, let’s take a deeper look at the connection between these unhealthy, restrictive diets and eating disorders…
Veganism and eating disorders often “overlap”
Carrie Dennett, a registered dietician, recently wrote an opinion piece on veganism and eating disorders that ran in The Washington Post. She claimed it’s simply a “misconception” that vegans and vegetarians often suffer from eating disorders.
But, clearly, many health care professionals seem to think otherwise. And—numerous studies over the years confirm the association…
For example, according to a 2003 study, college-age women who become vegetarian are more likely to have an eating disorder. In another informal survey of dieticians who specialize in eating disorders, 98 percent of them reported seeing clients who were vegan. And 90 percent of them started following a vegan diet after they developed an eating disorder.
Plus, in a more recent 2012 survey of women recovering from an eating disorder, 68 percent of them admitted that their vegetarianism was related to their disorder. And in a 2015 study, researchers found that vegetarianism was much more prevalent among women with “severe” eating disorders compared to women without disorders.
In many of these cases, it seems that people with eating disorders decide to follow a vegan or vegetarian diet as a “socially acceptable” way to legitimize their phobia and avoidance of certain so-called “high-calorie” foods.
Of course, pop culture seems to normalize (and even promote) these restrictive diets. But their connection to eating disorders is so well-known within the medical community that most eating disorder treatment centers won’t even accept vegan patients unless they’re willing to start eating a balanced diet including animal products.
In other words, according to experts in the field, recovery from an eating disorder involves accepting and following a balanced diet that includes meat and animal products, such as real, full-fat yogurt and cheese.
Restrictive diets don’t supply optimal nutrition
In The Washington Post piece, Dennett argued that the studies aren’t definitive. And she claimed that it’s more of a “red flag” when a vegan isn’t willing to eat what she called “vegan fun foods,” such as vegan cheeses, ice cream, or meats. (Sounds like some real fun.)
So, basically, she’s saying that being vegan makes total sense…it’s only when a vegan avoids “fun vegan foods” (the plant-based, overly processed, imitation junk) that there’s a cause for concern?!
That line of thinking just doesn’t add up. Especially when we look back at all the science. And in my view, eating any highly processed vegan foods, even the so-called “fun” food, seems more like punishment than reward to me. (Well, as the French say, à chacun son goût. Which basically means, “to each his own.”)
Nutritionists often have unhealthy relationships with food
Tragically, we dare not place too much emphasis on what these “dieticians” and “nutritionists” have to say. Because, as I’ve reported before, most of them actually suffer from unhealthy ideas about, and relationships with, food…just as their clients do.
In fact, in a 2017 study of 2,500 registered dieticians, a staggering 50 percent of them were at risk for developing orthorexia nervosa (ON)—a type of eating disorder that involves an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. And 13 percent were at risk for a generalized eating disorder. Moreover, 8 percent of the dieticians disclosed they had already been diagnosed as having an eating disorder.
Plus, both those at risk for ON and those who had received prior treatment for an eating disorder had lower body mass indexes (BMIs). And those with ON symptoms appeared to have disturbances in eating and increased concerns about body shape and weight.
Overall, the evidence certainly suggests that following any type of diet that eliminates entire food groups—including veganism, ketogenic, paleo, and “Whole 30” diets—may increase your risk of developing an eating disorder, or may be the result of one!
And that’s not all…
Cutting out healthy foods harms your physical health, too
Of course, if you avoid eating meat for ethical reasons, I certainly respect your decision. But you shouldn’t think you are doing yourself a favor when it comes to your physical health. In fact, contrary to popular belief, people who avoid meat and dairy tend to have more major health challenges when compared to those with a balanced diet (meat-eaters).
Remember, humans are designed biologically to be omnivorous…meaning we must consume a wide variety of foods, including wild-caught seafood, grass-fed and -finished meat, and full-fat dairy, in order to meet optimal nutritional needs.
Plus, despite what the vegetarian gurus say, there’s no evidence that raising free-range chickens and cattle, using sustainable grazing practices, is bad for the planet. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence to show these animals are good for the grasslands.
What’s really bad for the planet are the mass-produced, mono-cropped plants artificially “grown” with chemical fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides used to manufacture plant-based, fake “meat” products! This junk ought to be composted instead of consumed.
(Learn more about the dangers of these fake foods in the March 2019 issue of my monthly Insiders’ Cures newsletter [“NEWS ALERT: Popular plant-based diets are not as healthy as they claim”]. Not yet a subscriber? Now’s the perfect time to get started!)
In the end, we should all treat animals and Nature with respect. But we shouldn’t fall prey to the myth that vegan or vegetarian diets are better for your weight…for your mental health…for your overall health…or even for the planet. Instead, continue following a healthy, balanced diet full of fresh, whole foods—and enjoy the many health benefits.
P.S. This Sunday, February 21st at 3:00 PM (EDT), I’ll be announcing the details on a natural longevity breakthrough during my FREE online broadcast. You’ll learn about dozens of simple solutions that can help halt the signs of aging. Want to learn more? Be sure to reserve your spot TODAY for my Ultimate Longevity Summit. (And hurry, space is limited!)
“Vegetarian diet and mental disorders: results from a representative community survey.” Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2012 Jun 7; 9:67. doi.org/10.1186/1479-5868-9-67
“Orthorexia Nervosa and Eating Disorder Symptoms in Registered Dietitian Nutritionists in the United States.” J Acad Nutr Diet. 2017 Oct;117(10):1612-1617. doi.org: 10.1016/j.jand.2017.05.001.
“Veganism and eating disorders: Is there a link?” The Washington Post, 7/16/20. (washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/veganism-and-eating-disorders-is-there-a-link/2020/07/15/0f5fbd44-c6cd-11ea-8ffe-372be8d82298_story.html)
“The Inter-relationships between Vegetarianism and Eating Disorders among Females.” J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 Aug; 112(8): 1247–1252. doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2012.05.007
“Increased prevalence of vegetarianism among women with eating pathology.” Eat Behav. 2015 Dec;19:24-7. doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2015.06.017. Epub 2015 Jul 2.