Are vegans all crazy?

Are you crazy?

Stop kidding.

You’re not vegan.

Stop being silly. 

Those were my mom’s exact words when I told her I was now vegan. Questioning my sanity was her first instinct. It turns out she may have been right all along.

We’ve had the “butter is healthy” and the “lettuce is worse than bacon (for the environment)” but while articles undermining the plant based lifestyle indirectly are nothing new, our mental health is now directly questioned.

Not too long ago, Women’s health magazine made headlines claiming that “vegetarianism can come with some unexpected side effects” those of which being mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression and even OCD. Even though the article is a prime example of bad journalism, it raises an interesting topic.

The hypothesis posited by my mom was

  1. You are crazy thus you’ve decided to become vegan
  2. You’re not crazy so you can’t be vegan and you’re making a bad joke

Now, we all know that if being crazy lead to veganism, the world’s population would be near 100% plant based by now. All jokes aside, is the contrary true?

Are all vegans crazy?

If so which comes first?

Are you vegan because you’re crazy? Or do you get crazy from being vegan?

Women’s health magazine poorly tries to make it seem as though the latter is correct. Upon reading the German study that is the basis for their claims (the rest being purely opinions by authors trying to sell their -you guessed it- anti-veg books), it is clear that their findings actually supports the former.

It says right there in the conclusion:

our results are more consistent with the view that the experience of a mental disorder increases the probability of choosing a vegetarian diet, or that psychological factors influence both the probability of choosing a vegetarian diet and the probability of developing a mental disorder

Be it a cautionary note to all journalists (or anyone) to skip to the actual results section and not rely on the abstract if you want to boast that you’ve “read a study”.

My mom was right, I may have had a mental illness (that she wasn’t aware of) making it more likely for me to become vegan.

Thankfully I don’t but if you do have one, don’t worry, foregoing meat might actually help you.

A study made in California looked at the impact of diet on mood in a community of Seventh Day Adventists (chosen to control for lifestyle) and they found that vegetarians reported less depression, anxiety and stress as well as a lower level of mood disturbance than their meat-eaters counterparts.

 Bottom line is, some of us vegans were crazy way before we started eating “just plants” and for the rest of us, we can rest assured that we’re not on a fast ride to crazytown.

*Disclaimer: the use of the word crazy is not meant to be derogatory 


1- Vegetarian diet and mental disorders: results from a representative community survey

2-Vegetarian diets are associated with healthy mood states: a cross-sectional study in Seventh Day Adventist adults


One thought on “Are vegans all crazy?

  1. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn said something in the documentary ‘Forks over Knives’ that fits perfectly here -“Some people think the “plant based whole food diet” is extreme. Half a million a year will have their chests opened up and a vain taken from their leg and sewn onto their coronary artery. Some people would call that extreme.”
    P.S. The post is really awesome and thoughtful.


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