Vegetarians More Intelligent: Study

Frequently dismissed as cranks, their fussy eating habits tend to make them unpopular with dinner party hosts and guests alike.

But now it seems they may have the last laugh, with research showing vegetarians are more intelligent than their meat-eating friends.

A study of thousands of men and women revealed that those who stick to a vegetarian diet have IQs that are around five points higher than those who regularly eat meat.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, the researchers say it isn’t clear why veggies are brainier, but admit the fruit- and veg-rich vegetarian diet could somehow boost brain power.

Vegetarians were also more likely to have gained degrees and hold down high-powered jobs.

There was no difference in IQ between strict vegetarians and those who classed themselves as veggie but still ate fish or chicken.

However, vegans – vegetarians who also avoid dairy products – scored significantly lower, averaging an IQ score of 95 at the age of 10.

Researcher Dr. Catharine Gale said there could be several explanations for the findings, including intelligent people being more likely to consider both animal welfare issues and the possible health benefits of a vegetarian diet.

Previous work has shown that vegetarians tend to have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol, cutting their risk of heart attacks. They are also less likely to be obese.

Alternatively, a diet which is rich in fruit, vegetables and wholegrains may somehow boost brain power.

Dr. Gale said: “Although our results suggest that children who are more intelligent may be more likely to become vegetarian as adolescents or young adults, it does not rule out the possibility that such a diet might have some beneficial effect on subsequent cognitive performance.

“Might the nature of the vegetarians’ diet have enhanced their apparently superior brain power? Was this the mechanism that helped them achieve the disproportionate nature of degrees?”

Said Liz O’Neill of the Vegetarian Society: “We’ve always known that vegetarianism is an intelligent, compassionate choice benefiting animals, people and the environment. Now, we’ve got the scientific evidence to prove it.”

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