BEEF Daily

Are Meat Eaters Happier Than Vegetarians?


Insufficient red meat tied to anxiety, depression in women.

I’m feeling a little blue today. I haven’t had my daily dose of beef yet. Of course, I’m saying this a little tongue-in-cheek, but most days, I eat beef, and yes, it makes me happy. In fact, a new study shows there is a link between red meat and happiness, so the good news is you can have your steak and eat it, too. It tastes good and is good for you.

According to Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, eating less than the recommended amount of red meat is linked to anxiety and depression in women. For the study, researchers examined the relationship between beef and lamb consumption and the presence of depressive and anxiety disorders in more than 1,000 women. The results are published in the current edition of the journal Psychotherapy Psychosomatics.

“We had originally thought that red meat might not be good for mental health, as studies from other countries had found red meat consumption to be associated with physical health risks, but it turns out that it actually may be quite important,” says Felice Jacka, Ph.D., associate professor from Deakin’s Barwon Psychiatric Research Unit. “When we looked at women consuming less than the recommended amount of red meat in our study, we found that they were twice as likely to have a diagnosed depressive or anxiety disorder as those consuming the recommended amount.

"Even when we took into account the overall healthiness of the women’s diets, as well as other factors such as their socioeconomic status, physical activity levels, smoking, weight and age, the relationship between low red meat intake and mental health remained. Interestingly, there was no relationship between other forms of protein, such as chicken, pork, fish or plant-based proteins, and mental health. Vegetarianism was not the explanation, either. Only 19 women in the study were vegetarians, and the results were the same when they were excluded from the study analyses.”

So, what is the appropriate dose of this happy pill, beef?

Jacka suggests 3-4, small, palm-sized servings/week. USDA MyPlate advises women to eat 5 oz. of protein daily, and men should eat between 5.5-6.5 oz. of protein daily. A quick search on the internet yields a variety of protein serving recommendations, but obviously every individual is unique. Either way, this study proves that omnivores might just have a little extra happiness than their vegetarian counterparts.

On that note, just for fun, check out this video of Baxter Black reading a poem on how vegetables feel pain. Just click on the video that is sure to add a laugh to your day.

As beef producers, I’m sure many of you have a freezer full of beef at home, but how often do you consume beef? What is the ideal amount for you and your family? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Discuss this Blog Entry 10

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 25, 2013

Maybe this is why you are not happier!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 25, 2013

I always enjoy and often learn from this column. I followed the link to the referenced news article and found that article ended with:
"Jacka also suggests sticking with grass-fed meats whenever possible.

“We know that red meat in Australia is a healthy product as it contains high levels of nutrients, including the omega-3 fatty acids that are important to mental and physical health. This is because cattle and sheep in Australia are largely grass-fed. In many other countries, the cattle are kept in feedlots and fed grains, rather than grass. This results in a much less healthy meat with more saturated fat and fewer healthy fats.”"

It only took 2 generations to convert American beef from a primarily grass fed product to the current model. With increasing evidence about the sustainability, environmental, and health concerns of the beef industry we've created, I sometimes wonder if we're giving our children the future they deserve. If American beef needs a radical change, I'd rather see the change come from us, not forced on us.

Anastasia (not verified)
on Apr 25, 2013

I really appreciate that Beef Magazine is reporting on scientific papers, and I understand that this is just a short, fun post, but I would hope that Beef would be a little more careful about how they report on science. For example:

No, this study does not prove " that omnivores might just have a little extra happiness than their vegetarian counterparts."

The authors say: “Vegetarianism was not the explanation either. Only 19 women in the study were vegetarians, and the results were the same when they were excluded from the study analyses.”

The study also doesn't show that eating more meat is a good idea. Again, from the authors:

Jacka also added that it probably wasn’t a good idea to eat too much red meat either. “We found that regularly eating more than the recommended amount of red meat was also related to increased depression and anxiety,” she said.

How are farmers, ranchers, etc and their associated trade groups supposed to hold anti-ag, animal welfare, organic, etc folks responsible for faulty conclusions if publications like Beef do it too? Please consider being more careful next time you publish a fun little post - the nuances in the science are important, even when you've got a conclusion that just screams to be promoted. We all need to work hard to avoid over-extending the conclusions made in scientific papers. Thanks for your consideration.

Ben Campbell (not verified)
on Apr 25, 2013

This was a nice read Amanda.
If I wanted a lot of science I'd get a copy of the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine.

on Apr 25, 2013

I'll answer the question Amanda.

We just this week put a another half in the freezer. Added bull to the ground mix, really gives the burger great flavor. Did a hog while we were at it. It's time to order fryers from the colony.

Personally, I want meat and lots of it, either beef, pork, or chicken on the table every meal of the day. Like most ranchers/farmers there is less time and more to do everyday so its long hours and short nights a good part of the year. When it can be 7 to 8 hours between meals for this crew animal protein is the only thing that has the staying power to last the day with out running out of gas.

The majority of our meals have beef as the meat entree and myself I do best on a pound to a pound and a half a day. The 3-5 ounce serving is a joke if you physically pound away all day. Beef gets me through the work day, day after day, like nothing else.

Like most American beef our beef is grass and roughage fed until the last 90 to 120 days of finish on roughage and grain. It's very flavorful, very tender and yes, "very healthy". And "yes" there is actual "real science" to prove it.

The grass fed guys need to show some benevolence, get off their soapbox a little, and realize that "grass fed" is viable in some parts of the country but can become extremely non-economically viable the further north the location because of market timing considerations and northern feed limitations.
The checkoff dollar does just as much for the grass fed
sector as is does the rest of us and the rhetoric of how we should "all be grass fed producers" is: a bit tiring?

on Apr 25, 2013

Very well put. It seems sometimes that the "grass fed is the only way" people are as bad as the anti's, and really are hurting everyone else, and even themselves. They still fail to figure out that we are producing more pounds with fewer cattle because of the increase of feedlots.

RODNEY ECKHARDT (not verified)
on Apr 25, 2013

AMANDA I have been getting your articles since you started and find them very helpful since I farm and ranch for a living. I am wondering why the anti-agriculture people are so interested in them. I like the way you have progressed since you started. Keep up the good work.

on Apr 25, 2013

Are Meat Eaters Happier Than Vegetarians?

I believe so.

Vegetarians and Vegans are the crabbiest most narrow minded people "I" ever encountered. Intolerant as heck.

You would think that being so "enlightened" would compound benevolence but just the opposite seems to be the case.

Jerome Behm (not verified)
on Apr 26, 2013

My experience with life has taught me that if you are going to work hard for a living and if you need physical strength and endurance to do it, you need red meat in your diet on a daily basis. Over the course of my years I have witnessed any number of people who will not eat meat and for the most part they just don't have the stamina to deliver when physical strength is needed to do the job. On top of this, they often can be the most cantankerous and ill natured people that you might ever want to meet. At any rate, my experience in the job force has borne this out. I am certainly not saying that this is scientific data which I am submitting but it is what I have personally observed.

As a farmer and rancher on the plains of north central North Dakota it is only natural that I would promote beef anyway, and I am proud to do so. A few years ago one of our Wilson double deck cattle trailers had a bumper sticker on it which I particularly liked and I want to quote it for all of you readers. It said and I quote:


I always thought that this was so true and meaningful and that it was deserving of being shared.

Jerome Behm

Behm Brothers Herefords

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 29, 2013

I agree 100% that beef does make people more happy and does give them more energy to get through everyday life. I eat beef 5 to 6 times a week and I feel as if I have more energy afterwards than I did before. But with that being said, a person does not have to eat beef to get the energy they need to get. As a former football player I know all about hard work and long hours. Some days we would have 6 hours worth of practice time on the field, in full pads, and in the 100 degree heat. But during that time I did not eat as much beef and even sometimes, I ate zero meat and had just as much energy as I did if I ate beef. There are a lot of other foods that gives a person energy and can get them through the day.

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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