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Vegetarianism: the choice of the 'more intelligent' child

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Vegetarianism: the choice of the 'more intelligent' child

By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor

Published: 15 December 2006



It's official - vegetarians really are smarter. But it is not because of

what they eat. Bright children are more likely to reject meat and opt to

become vegetarians when they grow up, a study has shown. Clever veggies are born not made.


The finding helps explain how a team of vegetarians won the BBC Test the

Nation competition in September, when they beat off competition from six

other teams including butchers, public school pupils and footballers' wives

to achieve the highest overall IQ score.


The top scoring individual in the contest, Marie Bidmead, 68, a mother of

five from Churcham, Gloucester, was also a vegetarian. "I think it shows we

veggies are good thinkers. We think about what we eat for a start," she



Researchers from the University of Southampton who conducted the study

agree. They suggest that vegetarians are more thoughtful about what they

eat. But they say it is unclear whether bright children choose to become

vegetarians for the health benefits or for other reasons, such as a concern

for animals, or as a lifestyle choice.


The scientists began investigating the link between IQ and vegetarianism

because people with higher intelligence have a lower risk of heart disease,

which has long puzzled doctors.


A vegetarian diet is associated with a lower cholesterol level, lower blood

pressure and less obesity - all risk factors for heart disease. The

researchers wondered if this could explain the health advantage of having a

high IQ. They cite Benjamin Franklin, the 18th-century statesman and

scientist, who said that a vegetarian diet results in a "greater clearness

of head and quicker comprehension". He may not have realised that this was

because of whom was eating rather than what was eaten.


However, early last century doctors were less enamoured of the practice.

Robert Hutchison told the British Medical Association in 1930:

"Vegetarianism is harmless enough though it is apt to fill a man with wind

and self-righteousness."


The study, published in the British Medical Journal, was based on more than

8,000 people born in 1970 whose IQ was measured at age 10. Now aged 36, the

researchers found 366, just under one in 20, said they were vegetarians (a

third of these ate chicken or fish but none touched red meat).


As well as being brighter, the vegetarians were better educated and of

higher social class but the link with intelligence remained statistically

significant even after adjusting for these factors. Despite their

intelligence they were not wealthier and more likely to be working for

charities or in education. "It may be that ethical considerations determined

not just their diet but also their choice of employment," the report said.


It concludes: "Our finding that children with greater intelligence are more

likely to report being vegetarian as adults, coupled with the evidence on

the potential health benefits of a vegetarian diet, may help to explain why

higher IQ in childhood or adolescence is linked with a reduced risk of

coronary heart disease in adult life."


The benefits of forsaking meat


* A vegetarian diet tends to be lower in fat, higher in fibre and vitamins


* Vegetarian diets are associated with lower cholesterol, lower blood

pressure, and less obesity


* Vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease, less diabetes and may have less risk of cancer and dementia


* The Vegetarian Society, claimed to be the oldest in the world, was founded in Ramsgate, Kent, in 1847. Mahatma Ghandi, George Bernard Shaw and Linda McCartney were members


* 'Vegetarian' is derived from the Latin vegetus, meaning 'lively' and was

intended to be suggestive of the English 'vegetable'

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I hope your health balances out Braj and your sugar levels stabilize.


I adopted Hare Krsna vegetarian eating habits through association with devotees from Iskcon. Before this I had no knowledge of how to practice vegetarianism in a balanced way. (I come from a family committed to red-meat eating - but fortunately from a young age I found red-meat repulsive to the palate)


The diet I learnt from devotees books seems to be high in dairy, sugars, and salt. And to be honest not really healthy. I have tried to modify this diet by eating more fruits and raw vegetables. Less ghee and things. Really my weight increased by following Iskcon diet more so than pre-vegetarian days.


I also have risk of developing diabetes due to a medicine I take for a health condition. Unfortunately the side effects are weight gain, and cases are proving that people on this medicine have higher chance of developing diabetes. So this is someting I am really working on to avoid.


The high dairy (sugar and salt) vegetarian diet (that was taught to me by devotees) seems to rebute the above article a bit doesn't it?


Maybe Theist is on to something with his vegan approach!

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