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Are Meat Eaters Happier Than Vegetarians?

women eat steak to boost happiness

I’m feeling a little blue today. I haven’t had my daily dose of beef yet. Of course, I’m saying this a little tongue-in-cheek, but most days, I eat beef, and yes, it makes me happy. In fact, a new study shows there is a link between red meat and happiness, so the good news is you can have your steak and eat it, too. It tastes good and is good for you.

According to Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, eating less than the recommended amount of red meat is linked to anxiety and depression in women. For the study, researchers examined the relationship between beef and lamb consumption and the presence of depressive and anxiety disorders in more than 1,000 women. The results are published in the current edition of the journal Psychotherapy Psychosomatics.

“We had originally thought that red meat might not be good for mental health, as studies from other countries had found red meat consumption to be associated with physical health risks, but it turns out that it actually may be quite important,” says Felice Jacka, Ph.D., associate professor from Deakin’s Barwon Psychiatric Research Unit. “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. Interestingly, there was no relationship between other forms of protein, such as chicken, pork, fish or plant-based proteins, and mental health. Vegetarianism was not the explanation, either. Only 19 women in the study were vegetarians, and the results were the same when they were excluded from the study analyses.”

So, what is the appropriate dose of this happy pill, beef?

Jacka suggests 3-4, small, palm-sized servings/week. USDA MyPlate advises women to eat 5 oz. of protein daily, and men should eat between 5.5-6.5 oz. of protein daily. A quick search on the internet yields a variety of protein serving recommendations, but obviously every individual is unique. Either way, this study proves that omnivores might just have a little extra happiness than their vegetarian counterparts.

On that note, just for fun, check out this video of Baxter Black reading a poem on how vegetables feel pain. Just click on the video that is sure to add a laugh to your day.

As beef producers, I’m sure many of you have a freezer full of beef at home, but how often do you consume beef? What is the ideal amount for you and your family? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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