Vegetarians and vegans are more introverted than meat eaters and it could be because they’re not invited to eat out as often, a study has suggested.
Researchers from Germany surveyed 9,000 people concerning their diet, body mass index and various personality traits — from extroversion to neuroticism.
They found that meat eaters typically have a more extroverted personality but a higher body mass index that their plant-eating counterparts.
Vegetarians and vegans are more introverted than meat eaters and it could be because they’re not invited to eat out as often, a study has suggested (stock image)
In Germany, vegetarianism appears to be on the rise — with 6.1 million citizens last year stating that they were vegetarians, up by 400,000 people from two years prior, according to a survey by the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research.
In their study, neurologist Evelyn Medawar of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig and colleagues explored how such diets are related to body mass index and psyche among a sample of almost 9,000 people.
Participants were asked to detail how often they had eaten certain foods over the last 12 months — while personality traits like extroversion and depression, as well as levels of depression, were assessed using established tests for such.
The team found an association between people who have a diet predominantly based around plant-based foods tend to be less extroverted than their mainly meat-eating counterparts.
‘It is difficult to say what the reason for this is,’ said paper author and neurologist Veronica Witte, also of the Max Planck Institute.
‘It could be because more introverted people tend to have more restrictive eating habits, or because they are more socially segregated because of their eating habits.’
The researchers also looked at other traits like neuroticism and a tendency toward depressive moods, but were unable to find the correlations between these traits and vegetarian or vegan diets that had been proposed by previous studies.
‘Earlier analyses had found that more neurotic people were generally more likely to avoid certain groups of foods and to behave more restrictively,’ Dr Witte explained.
‘We focused here solely on the avoidance of animal products and could not observe any correlation.’
As for depressive moods, she added, the more refined approach of the new study may explain the apparent discrepancy with previous findings.
‘It is possible that in previous analyses other factors had blurred the results, including the body mass index or conspicuous personality traits that are known to be associated with depression. We accounted for them,’ said Dr Witte.
She also noted that vegetarianism is now not only more common but also more accepted and adopted across all demographic groups.
The team also found that eating less meat was associated with a lower body mass index — and, by extension, body weight — which the researchers proposed could be due to eating a lower proportion of heavily processed foods (stock image)
The team also found that eating less meat was associated with a lower body mass index — and, by extension, body weight — which the researchers proposed could be due to eating a lower proportion of heavily processed foods.
‘Products that are excessively rich in fat and sugar are particularly fattening. They stimulate the appetite and delay the feeling of satiety. If you avoid animal foods, you consume fewer such products on average,’ Ms Medawar explained.
Furthermore, plant-based food contains more dietary fibre and had a beneficial effect on the intestinal microbiome — which may lead to vegetarians filling fuller sooner in comparison with their meat-eating counterparts.
‘People who eat predominantly vegetable foods may therefore absorb less energy,’ Ms Medawar added — although she noted that lifestyle factors such as exercise levels and a greater health awareness could play an important role.
The full findings of the study were published in the journal Nutrients.
How common is veganism in Britain?
Greggs launched a vegan steak bake this month
Last year Britain was recently declared the vegan capital of the world, taking Germany’s title after UK supermarkets launched the most plant-based products in 2018.
Analysis shows while more consumers are completely ditching meat, dairy and eggs from their diet, one in three of the total population have been cutting back on food consumption.
The trend for a diet free of any animal products, particularly led by young people on ethical grounds, saw high street baker Greggs launch a vegan version of its popular sausage roll last year and a vegan steak bake yesterday.
McDonald’s is now offering a vegetarian Happy Meal, while KFC and Subway also launched vegan alternatives this week.
Edward Bergen, of retail analysts Mintel, said with about one in six new food products containing no animal ingredients – double the eight per cent in 2015 – it was now easier than ever to try a plant-based diet.
Recent analysis from market research company Mintel shows more consumers are completely ditching meat and opting for a vegan diet (file photo)
He added: ‘For a number of years Germany led the world for launches of vegan products. However, 2018 saw the UK take the helm.’
The UK has seen a huge promotion of vegan choices in restaurants and the expansion of supermarket own-label options, with dedicated vegan ranges in mainstream stores.
Additional space is also being freed up to promote vegan food and drink.