It’s been a long time since you’ve stopped responding to the stupid question, “Really, you don’t eat meat–not even chicken?” You aren’t even annoyed anymore by comments about your fussy eating habits and about how “unnatural” it is to not eat meat. You just let it go, knowing your vegetarian diet is your choice.
It seems vegetarians may have the last laugh! Recent studies show that individuals with higher intelligence are more likely to become vegetarians. Using 11 different cognitive tests at three pre-16 ages researchers have found people who choose meatless diets are more intelligent than their omnivorous friends.
Among the respondents to a UK Child Development Study, those who were vegetarian at age 42 had significantly higher general childhood intelligence than those who were not vegetarian at the same age. Women who choose not to eat meat have a mean childhood IQ of 108.0; those who aren’t vegetarian have a mean childhood IQ of 100.7. Male omnivores have a mean childhood IQ of 101.1, whereas men who choose vegetarianism have a mean childhood IQ of 111.0. That’s a 10-point difference in IQ!
Another scientific theory, Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis, supports the correlation between a vegetarian diet and higher intelligence. Satoshi Kanzawa, an evolutionary psychologist, suggests the ability to change personal habits in reply to challenges in the world is strongest in people with higher empathy and intelligence levels. There is a strict link between a person’s ability to easily adapt their habits to “evolutionary novels” and higher IQ.
Intelligent people cope more easily with situations that did not exist in the ancestral environment (such as modern dietary options). While our ancestors had to face constant food scarcity, we often face the opposite problem: abundance. Intelligent people are more likely to make wiser choices about what they eat, considering both their own health and animal welfare issues.
Vegetarians have found that they don’t need to eat meat to have a balanced diet and maintain body and brain health. Researchers at Harvard University found that vegetarians can get enough protein from non-meat foods, like vegetables, whole grains, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, and soy products. A well-balanced vegetarian diet actually provides TWICE the amount of protein we need!
Researchers from the British Medical Journal have also recently published a study which describes how a fruit and vegetable-rich vegetarian diet can even boost brain power! At the same time, meat-eaters have a higher incidence of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other serious health problems.
Paying attention to what we eat is more than just how to satisfy your stomach and cravings, but also about sustainability. Our world simply won’t sustain the current rates of meat consumption. About 30% of the world’s total ice-free surface is used to feed the chickens, pigs, and cattle we eat. The expansion of meat production, of which beef is the biggest culprit, was the main cause of deforestation over the last two decades. Experts list it as the second-biggest environmental threat to the human species after fossil-fuel vehicles.
Sure, even while being aware of the negative impact of meat on the environment you can still sometimes dig into your favorite burger–when you really feel like it. It is all about the quality and the quantity of what you eat, not necessarily quitting meat totally. No matter what type of diet you choose it’s definitely worth using your intelligence and develop empathy to keep the negative impact of your nutritional choices at the minimum level–not just mindlessly following your whims.
Getting more informed and tracing where your food comes from and what impact your consumption has on your environment can help you to optimize your nutritional choices. And these are the essential ones, because what you put on your plate is a decision you make at least three times a day.