T Nation

vegan = depression?


#1

I'm curious, does being a vegan and eating like they do cause or help promote depression? Is there any sort of studies on this? I have a real good friend who's a vegan and she's depressed and I think its because the way she eats. She always has headaches, its real sad. If anyone has any information on this feel free to chime in.


#2

i would like to think so (biased meat eater), but it's probably her lack of proper nutrition. most people who become vegans have no clue how create a food plan to get enough of everthing needed. they just cut all animal products, eat more veggies, nuts and fruit and their body & mind start to pay for it. that or she has issues.


#3

scientifically speaking i have no idea, but anecdotally speaking i can tell you that if i had to limit my food intake to that of a vegan i would be one depressed mo-fo.


#4

depressed,and skinny fat...


#5

Honestly I would say one thing has nothing to do with the other.
I mean say a person was already depressed and maybe thought it was eating meats that caused it, so they became vegan.
Problem would still be there because we all know eating meats wouldn't cause that, it would just be an ill conceived fix for mental health issues.

And really most true vegans aren't fat. Most are quite skinny. How can anyone be fat when they eat only veggies? How can you get lots of muscle from eating only veggies?


#6

Tell, this to Mike Mahler he's a Vegan and not skinny nor is he depressed.


#7

I thought Mike Mahler was vegetarian, not vegan.


#8

1) No B12 in a vegan diet, which is important for the nervous system.

2) A lack of fat, calories, and nutrients causes adrenal stress. Adrenal stress can lead to depression as well as headaches.


#9

yes, neilg, thank you. headaches, she gets a lot of headaches. What would your suggestion be?


#10

"yes, neilg, thank you. headaches, she gets a lot of headaches. What would your suggestion be?"

To eat meat?

LOL, ok, seriously...

Why is she vegan? There are only two logical reasons to be a vegan: 1) religious beliefs and 2) Simply not liking the taste of animal products (frickin' weird, but logical).

Both veganism and carnivorism (is that a word) kill animals. The difference is that people that eat meat kill animals for a reason, which is for food! Vegans kill animals like crazy, but since they don't ever see it, it doesn't matter to them. Faulty vegan logic. Like how stupid vegans will yell about fur coats and how fur is murder. Dumasses don't know that a cotton coat kills ten times more animals because a) cotton is an ecologically devastating crop, taking away valuable habitat for animals and b) the harvesting of cotton kills many nice furry little animals that might be able to make their homes there, or are just chillin. The same goes for mass production of rice (which is REALLY bad since it creates a breading ground for disease), wheat, etc, etc. Not to mention single crop farming like that depletes the soils VERY quickly. Umm, I think you get my point. I mean, if you really want to know more, just ask. I just figured addressing WHY she's vegan might be an idea since it seems to be the root of her problems (not necessarily, however). Although a lot of people have a tough time admiting that something they are so dedicated to might be wrong (myself included, but hey, we live and learn). At least try to get her to eat organic eggs. This would be the number one food for her to add to help her health, and you can tell her no chickens are slaughtered to get the eggs! If she could get fresh eggs from a local farm, then even better!

Ok, now, if she's intent on staying vegan, if she could reduce ANY of these factors, she could reduce adrenal stress (and help alleviate some of her problems, but not necessarily solve them):


  • Anger

  • Fear

  • Worry/anxiety

  • Depression

  • Guilt (a common vegan thing)

  • Overwork/ physical or mental strain

  • Excessive exercise

  • Sleep deprivation

  • Light-cycle disruption

  • Going to sleep late

  • Chronic inflammation

  • Chronic pain

  • Temperature extremes (summer heat to AC inside)

  • Toxic exposure (pollution, chemicals around the house and workplace, etc.)

  • Malabsorption

  • Maldigestion

  • Hypogycemia (eating high GI carbs, eating infrequently)

  • Nutritional deficiencies


Not much you can do about the B12 thing. It really only comes from animal sources. A couple other VERY important nutrients that vegans tend to lack in is vitamin D. Sure, you CAN make vitamin D from sunlight, but there are several issues: 1) The conversion can be inefficient to nill depending on how healthy she is. And since she's vegan, she's obviously not going to be in top health 2) Only certain rays from the sun available at certain times of the day are good for making vitamin D. This means the "15 minutes" in the sun more than likely won't work 3) What if there's no sun?!? Winter? Coulds? 4) What if she's dark-skinned? You need a lot more sunlight then, but this also comes back to number 2.

Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A with the right conditions. The conversion is easier with fat (vegans generally lack in), not to mention thyroid function affects the efficiency. And as mentioned with vitamin D, being vegan already puts her at a disadvantage. The conversion rate is already not great at about 6 units of BC to make 1 unit of vitamin A.

In short, try to convince her to take cod liver oil and/or eat some organic eggs. It really does give her some VERY important nutrients.

Hope this helps,
Neil


#11

Sex is a good cure for headaches. It might not cheer her up but you'll feel better.


#12

I have been a vegan for several years and anyone who knows me knows that I am super driven and positive. I really doubt that it is the fact that she is vegan that is causing her depression. Possible reasons couls be poor overall nutrition due to lack of planning or just having a dissatisfying life. Or it could be some chemical imbalance that is not related to nutrition.

Mike Mahler


#13

She definitely doesn't get enough sleep and eats poorly, I'm not really sure though because I've never seen what she eats or when. I talked to her today to see what vitamins she takes and she said B12, but that's all. I'd like to try to help her out a little but I really have no friggen clue about the whole vegan thing. Thanks Neil that was a very informative post, appreciate it very much I might even show it to her.


#14

I know a few vegans, it takes planning and knowledge to eat well on a vegan diet, but it is no more or less healthy than a diet with meat in it.

It can be a cycle - not enough food, general fatigue, slower metabolisn, loss of appetite... the longer this goes on the more crappy she'll feel and then of course she will be depressed. But it's not being vegan per say.

Before you try to convince her to eat animal products, try to help her plan a correct vegan diet. If you start off with 'change your eating style' the rest of your help may fall on deaf ears.


#15

Steve,

If she's eating like crap, then I'd agree with Michelle to just try and get her eating better. I definitely think this would be best, along with addressing any of those issues that cause adrenal stress. Eating like crap and getting little sleep is a MUCH bigger issue than not eating animal products.

Forget what I said about trying to get her to eat animal products for now. I now think this should be a last resort.


#16

BUMP

Sorry to drag this thread away from it's main course...

But SERIOUSLY....!

NeilG - there are definitely more reasons for becoming a Vegan than purely Religion or Taste.

What about ETHICS or COMPASSION or POLITICS...?

All your talk about the environmental impact of cotton farming/ destruction of habitat blah blah blah and you overlook the main reasons that vegans and vegetarians eschew meat for non-animal alternatives...?

Your attempts to denigrate these alternative lifestyles with your coments about "...faulty vegan logic" and the killing of "...nice furry animals" are entirely typical of either the PSEUDO SCIENTIST or the ARGUMENT WAITING TO HAPPEN, and having gone through your previous soap-opera posts, I can tell that you are a past master at both.

If anyone ever took your advice for anything, God help 'em.

...and StevenF - sorry to hijack your thread...!

I was a vegetarian for about 10 years, and suffered no ill-effects in terms of mental health - I think Mr Mahler has the right idea in that it simply is a neurochemical-based issue. I've known quite a few depressed people over the years, and their diets ranged from crap to clean to Buddhist.

Cheers...!


#17

Radar,

"NeilG - there are definitely more reasons for becoming a Vegan than purely Religion or Taste."

No, there aren't. At least not logical ones.

"What about ETHICS or COMPASSION or POLITICS...?"

What are you trying to say? You're better than me? I'm unethical, uncompassionate? That it's wrong to kill animals for food? And that poor treatment of animals means I shouldn't eat meat? What about the crap caused by NOT eating meat? Eating vegan kills more animals than eating only animal products. But guess what? Meat eaters EAT what is killed. Compassion my ass. The animals are food for me. The ONLY reason the animals should be treated properly is because of peoples' health.

Sounds very liberal...democratic.

"All your talk about the environmental impact of cotton farming/ destruction of habitat blah blah blah and you overlook the main reasons that vegans and vegetarians eschew meat for non-animal alternatives...?"

Which is?

"Your attempts to denigrate these alternative lifestyles with your coments about "...faulty vegan logic" and the killing of "...nice furry animals" are entirely typical of either the PSEUDO SCIENTIST or the ARGUMENT WAITING TO HAPPEN..."

Yes, because I just made up all that stuff, huh? Veganism is a perfect solution to all the world's problems. If only everyone would eat vegan, there would be world peace.

"I was a vegetarian for about 10 years, and suffered no ill-effects in terms of mental health - I think Mr Mahler has the right idea in that it simply is a neurochemical-based issue."

So? I know lots of people that eat donuts, drink soda, eat chips, etc, and they have great bodies and are well adjusted people. So this means there can't be problems caused by this diet, right?

"I've known quite a few depressed people over the years, and their diets ranged from crap to clean to Buddhist."

Exactly. I was offering a likely reason, although based on the fact that later it was said her diet was crap and had poor sleeping habits, I said the vegan issue was less important.


#18

This might not be the best first post but what the hell; I might be able to help you out a little. Depression is a fairly common problem, not only in vegetarians. Like most diseases/problems there is almost never that one magic cure or silver bullet that most people look for. Below is a list of possible causes that NeilG didn?t mention:

Food allergies can cause adrenal fatigue. If she has the money an Elsa and/or ACT test could help find an allergy quicker that cycling foods.

An over consumption of Sugar. Sugar can cause a chromium deficiency or Candida of the intestines. The Candida (yeast) can produce a toxin that can cause depression.

Gluten sensitivity. If this is the problem, she might have to cut out all wheat for quite some time (up to 6 months).

Xenobitics (foreign substances in the human body). These can include chemicals from out-gassing, pollen, molds, additives and hormones in foods.

Is she on any medication?

Obviously nutritional deficiencies can cause a wide variety of symptoms. NeilG mentioned B12 but don?t forget that almost no nutrients works alone. A single deficiency can impair the body?s ability to use other nutrients. I?m a firm believer that everyone should be taking vitamin and mineral supplements.

EFA deficiency can mimic depression.

Mind set, obviously, but let me explain. I?ve had times in my life where I could sleep and sleep and sleep. Never felt like doing anything. The less I felt like doing, the more inactive I became. The more inactive I became the worse I felt. Horrible downward spiral. Looking back I just needed something to look forward to. Some people wake up everyday like it was Christmas morning because they have that special something to look forward to. You need to be excited about life. In all honesty how many of us really look forward to out workout during the day. I bet there?s a large percentage that can?t wait to hit the weights and see our progress. I?ve been training Westside style for a couple of months now and every ME day is like Christmas to me. I feel like a little kid again. My point is that maybe she just needs something to enjoy in life.

I guess the real question is how to help her get better. Does she realize that she?s depressed? Is she willing to do anything about it? Does she exercise? A little cardio every day can do wonders.


#19

rt45,

Hey, great stuff.

One more addition. Sugar consumption directly causes adrenal fatigue. This adrenal fatigue caused by the sugar consumption also messes up HCl production in the stomach, which messes up digestion, leading to further adrenal fatigue.

This reason is also why I would suggest taking betaine HCl before your one-hour-post-workout meal, since the post workout drink is high in sugar.


#20

Hooray for you Neil.

In the spirit of argument for arguments sake - I'd like to debate you.

Not, however, in the spirit to which you have become accustomed. (I.E "NeilG - you are an asshole. Nothing you say has any basis in reality......")

Your first point against my reply was that there are no "logical" reasons to become a vegan or a vegetarian. In your infinite wisdom, Mr. Spock, you have discounted not only an individuals right to choose that which is ethical to him/her, but also you have poo-pooed one of humanity's greater traits (being COMPASSION - either for animal or fellow man) not to mention an individuals right to choose their political leanings.

But if you wanna break it down....

Ethics is an individual assumption, old mate. What is ethical to you may not be ethical to me. As abortion is ethical to pro-choice, the opposite applies to the pro-lifers. So therefore, no-one is saying anyone is better than anyone...and if they are - I'm not the one who said it.

Your second point. Please PROVE to me that adopting a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle kills more animals than someone who eats animals killed by companies created around making money by killing said animals. Are you talking about ants...? Moths...? Crickets...? If you are, please clarify...you may have me on this one.

"Compassion my ass..." Fair enough.

"The animals are food for me." Talkin' tough - I LIKE it.

"The ONLY reason the animals should be treated properly is because of peoples' health." Which outlines your idea of what is ETHICAL. See above, genius.

"Sounds very liberal...democratic."

....and that's your attempt at addressing my earlier point on politics.

"Yes, because I just made up all that stuff, huh? Veganism is a perfect solution to all the world's problems. If only everyone would eat vegan, there would be world peace."

Yes you DID make it up - because you aren't right in the head.

But seriously.

Yeah RIGHT. Veganism is what's right for the INDIVIDUAL. No-one can tell you what's right for you (as you have demonstrated many times). You wanna eat meat, you eat meat. Ovo-lacto...? Go for it. No leather...? All yours.
The only true path to world peace is when people understand that it's "Diff'rent Strokes for Diff'rent Folks", and when "Dumasses" (or should that be DUMBASSES) stop trying to push their world view.

"So? I know lots of people that eat donuts, drink soda, eat chips, etc, and they have great bodies and are well adjusted people. So this means there can't be problems caused by this diet, right? "

I'm not a fuckin' doctor - I gave MY personal case history, not your donut-eatin' friends. What the fuck are you talking about here...?

Nothing personal though.

Radar.