A burger a day keeps depression away? Not exactly, but it might help, according to a new American study.
The University of Alabama report compiled 18 studies and looked at more than 160,000 people. It found that a vegetarian or vegan diet may increase the likelihood of depression.
The U.K.’s Daily Mail reported that the study found people eating a plant-based diet were twice as likely to take prescription drugs for mental illness and just about three times more likely to contemplate suicide. It also indicated that 33% of vegetarians suffer from depression or anxiety.
According to the researchers, avoiding meat might be a “behavioural marker” of people already with increased mental health struggles, though they conceded that would require further study to prove.
They concluded that vegetarians and vegans had ‘significantly’ higher rates or risk of depression, anxiety and self harm.
The researchers cautioned: “Our study does not support avoiding meat consumption for overall psychological health benefits.”
The study, “Meat and Mental Health: A systematic review of meat abstention and depression, anxiety and related phenomena,” was published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.