Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Study: Vegans Brainless, But Vegetarians And Almost Vegetarians Are The Smart Ones?

A rather startling column appearing in the British newspaper The Evening Standard cites the results of the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) claiming vegetarians tend to be smarter, female, and have higher positions of authority in society than their meat-eating counterparts. Oh really! Let's just see about that one.

Dr. Catharane R. Gale, Senior Research Fellow at the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Resource Center in Southampton, Great Britain, and her fellow researchers observed 8170 adults over the age of 30 who had participated as youngsters 20 years ago in the BCS70 to see what relation, if any, there was to being a vegetarian as a 30-year old adult with the IQ level of the participants when they were tested at 10 years old.

Of course, the researchers had to rely on self-reporting from the participants about whether they adhere to a vegetarian diet now and 366 of them, or 4.5 percent, allegedly were vegetarian. Nine of the ones in the vegetarian group were actually vegans and another one-third of these self-described "vegetarians" admitted that they also eating fish and chicken (technically making them NON-vegetarians).

So the actual number of true blue vegetarians should have been 234, or 2.9 percent of the total group of study participants. But the researchers included these meat eaters in the group anyway for some odd reason. Shall we call them "almost vegetarians?"

Okay, what exactly did Dr. Gale and her researchers find so fascinating about those in the vegetarian group? Here are the results of the characteristics of the "vegetarians" in the study:

1. About 3/4 of them are female
2. Over 2/3 had parents who were professional or semiskilled workers
3. Over 3/4 became professional or skilled workers as adults
4. 45 percent have a college degree or vocational diploma
5. The higher their IQ was at 10, the more likely they became vegetarian
6. Even the "almost vegetarians" who ate fish or chicken had a high IQ at 10
7. Vegans scored much lower on their IQ test than their fellow vegetarians

For those of you playing along at home, here are the actual average IQ scores assigned to each group in the study:

- Meat eaters not in vegetarian group - 95.5% of the study - 100
- Vegetarian group without vegans - 4.3% of the study - 105
- Vegan subgroup from vegetarians - 0.1% of the study - 95

But there's just one problem with the results of this study. Actually there are TWO MAJOR problems that I have with the results of this study. Let's look at why this study doesn't make a lick of sense at all.

- There was NO DIFFERENCE in the IQ level of those who were true "vegetarians" and the "almost vegetarians" who ate chicken or fish. If it was the vegetarianism that made them smarter, then wouldn't the meat eaters in that group score lower on the IQ test than their genuine vegetarian peers?

But there's an even BIGGER question to ask.

- What's with the substantial drop in IQ of the vegan group--the most extreme kind of vegetarian there is? Actually, a vegan is nothing more than a vegetarian who chooses not to eat any food that comes from an animal, so why was there such a wide disparity in intelligence dipping below even the meat eaters? Isn't that the REAL story of this study beyond everything else?

Can anyone explain how a meat-eating "almost vegetarian" can have the same IQ as someone who is a real "vegetarian," but then a vegan is more brainless (don't come after me again, vegans, I'm only quoting this study!) than the people who eat meat?

Is your head spinning yet?! 8-O

As crazy as this study is, Dr. Gale has her theory about the end results.

"One explanation for the link between higher IQ and vegetarianism may be that brighter children grow up to think more about what they eat, which in some cases has led them to become vegetarians," Dr. Gale theorized.

Translation: If you're smart you eat vegetables and care about animal welfare, if you're stupid you eat meat and act like a savage beast slaughtering innocent life. But wait a minute! What about those brainless vegans (shall we call them the REAL "total moron" now?), Dr. Gale? Aren't they the prime example of people who tend to "think more about what they eat" and yet their IQ results were anything but stellar? Can somebody explain this monkey wrench in the equation?

Interestingly, Dr. Gale and all but one of her fellow researchers who participated in this study are vegetarians. The lone carnivore in the group was Professor Ian Deary from the University of Edinburgh who said "the link [between IQ and being vegetarian] we have found might not be causal." Ya think?

How, Mr. Deary, have you been able to survive all these years being in an intellectually comatose state of mind and then find yourself working around a bunch of high and mighty vegetarians with an IQ five points higher than yours? How have you been able to hold your ground in the presence of such mental agility all around you? How indeed!

This study appeared in the December 15, 2006 issue of the British Medical Journal.

Dr. Gale wasn't finished with her extrapolation of information that she derived from this extremely suspicious study.

"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," she retorted. "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?"

Can you be any more smug and giddy in your rhetorical questions, Dr. Gale? I think it's a bit presumptuous to describe a vegetarian as having "superior brain power" just because a portion of them became educated and successful. It's not universally true across the board as I've eaten meat my entire life (and PROUDLY so!) and consider myself to have above average intelligence. I graduated high school near the top of my class just a few months after my 17th birthday, finished my Bachelor's degree with a double major in just three years at the age of 20, and completed my Master's degree work while still in my 20s.

How can all of this be from a man eating beef, pork, chicken, turkey and fish?

Plus, keep in mind that I not only advanced my education while stuffing my mouth with meat, meat, meat, but I also became morbidly obese in the process weighing in at over 400 pounds just three years ago. Of course, getting fat wasn't from eating the meat, but the excessive amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates.

Now that meat is helping me keep my weight off forever as I am livin' la vida low-carb. I eat some vegetables as part of my healthy diet, but I'm not ashamed to tell anyone that meat is a big part of my dietary habits and is keeping me heart healthy better than a vegetarian or vegan diet ever would have. The low-carb lifestyle saved my life, so I suppose you could say it was a pretty intelligent decision on my part to go on that plan starting January 1, 2004.

I especially enjoyed reading the response to this study from Dr. Rameet S. Uberoi at the University Hospital Lewisham. His letter to the editor of the BMJ entitled "Intelligent Vegetarians" was too juicy not to share with you.

Here are some snippets of what he wrote:

...Brushing aside the fact that there was no difference found in IQ’s between those who were vegetarian and those who ate meat/fish, I am surprised that such claim [that vegetarians are smarter] is possible! Surely consuming meat is not all that bad? It is already know that incidence of dementia is the same in both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, but who are we to argue with the diets of famous meat eaters such as Buddha, Jesus, Aristotle and even the mighty brain of Bill Gates...As a meat eater it gives me great pleasure in avoiding problems such as a lack of essential amino acids, anemia and subacute combined degeneration of the cord. Even the highest rates of food poisoning are attributed to greens based salads. I eagerly join Denmark and New York in turning to animal fats as industrially produced trans-fats have become the new source of all our problems. Eating meat is not all that bad after all.

You gotta love it! Dr. Uberoi, you speak for many of us with your poignant comments about Dr. Gale's study. Truth can be ignored for a while, but one day it will need to be acknowledged by those who oppose it. While this study was a good try at attempting to create evidence of the benefits of eating a vegetarian diet, Dr. Gale, the unfortunate fact of the matter is it was too full of illogical scientific contradictions to be taken seriously.

Would you like my educated advice to you (that is if you feel my meat-eating IQ qualifies to give you a suggestion)? Go back to the drawing board in your research using that high IQ of yours on something useful for a change. How about a head-to-head study comparing the impact of a vegetarian diet with a low-carb diet, hmmm? Are you brave enough to take on that challenge or are you smart enough to know the results will NOT be in your favor? We'll see who the intelligent one is now!

You can encourage Dr. Catharane Gale to conduct that study I suggested and tell her what you think about this one claiming vegetarians have higher IQ's by e-mailing her at

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Blogger Lowcarb_dave said...

You Americans have this fascination with IQ.

Nobody cares about IQ tests in Australia.

I hate the idea of an IQ test. How can you test imagination, wisdom and innovation?

All well and good to have analytical math types who aren't imaginative, innovative or wise?

This is a silly and stupid study on many levels.

From it's very start it seeks to polarize people.

Really is there much difference between 95 and 105 ? We are talkin 10 points here. What is the margin for error??

What a waste of research money!

What vegans and vegetarians eat varies as widely as anyones diet.

So is there a certain food type, added or lack of that has an effect??

This is not science, just sensationalism.

The organisers of the research should be ashamed of this activity!

12/20/2006 12:14 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Very good, Jimmy! Yeah, I read the article in that newspaper yesterday evening, and wrote to the editor. No reply as of yet, and I doubt if an answer will ever come forth; normally they never reply. Perhaps it's because they, in their unparalleled wisdom, immediately recognize my severely impaired cognitive and vocal abilities due to all these years of eating the wrong (animal!) foods...

12/20/2006 1:12 AM  
Blogger Lady Atkins said...

Two points.

1) A 10 point spread isn't anything big. The low group is 95 and the high group is 105. That really isn't much.

2) My IQ was tested in middle school at 128 (if I remember right) and I'm on Atkins. Maybe the REALLY smart people go low-carb. ;)

12/20/2006 1:14 AM  
Blogger dogfaceboy said...

I love studies like these. You'll probably find, later, that the study was funded by one of those vegetarian physicians' groups looking for propaganda.

I have an explanation, if one is even needed. In the West, only the privileged, already-educated make a choice to eschew meat, and it's usually based on their well-educated parents' views.

I wonder how many impoverished vegetarians from this country, how many third-world vegetarians, were tested. Surely you won't find any superb brain power.


Vegetarianism is the result of thought, not the cause of it.

12/20/2006 5:32 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

What's most fascinating is the fact that the researchers think they've come up with something. What would that be? That they are a bunch of freakin' idiots?!

12/20/2006 3:58 PM  
Blogger karishma said...

Here's an explanation I bet she didn't consider: people, especially children, with high IQ are likely to spend a lot more time reading and on the internet, and so have a lot more exposure to the low-fat, low-cal, pro-vegetarian, pro-animal-rights propaganda out there.

They're just more brainwashed than the rest of the population that spends their time doing other things :)

12/21/2006 12:17 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Ah, karishma, you're saying these people are the victim of educated ignorance.

12/21/2006 9:32 AM  
Blogger Henriette said...

Jimmy, as much as I respect you knowledge on Atkins etc., I find you have a real hate against all studies in favor of vegetables and that you are overly positive about studies in favor of Atkins. I can certainly see why this may a natural response for you, but please don't let your judgement be too one-sided! Could it be that some studies endorsing more vegetables are actually right?

5/11/2007 5:31 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Hey Henriette,

THANKS for your concerns, but I am not against vegetable consumption. Check out this blog post that explains my position about fruit and vegetable consumption.

My problem is indeed with these people who want to preach to us about how inferior we are to them because we chose to eat meat.

Vegans and vegetarians are in no position to talk about a healthy diet when animal fat is just as important as their much-heralded fruits and vegetables.

While I can see why you would think my purpose would be to skew any study results that are in favor of low-carb, I am simply reporting on them and then giving my commentary.

This isn't "Livin' La Vida General Health," Henriette. I am a strong supporter (and unashamed of it, too!) of the low-carb lifestyle.

If the mainstream media would just do their job and report the facts on these studies, then it wouldn't be necessary for me to explain the details of the research. Sadly, they are not doing that.

Advocacy for low-carb is what I do and I will keep on doing it. We have enough negativity about our way of eating that the least I can do is provide a safe haven for people to be reassured that they are doing what's best for them.

As always, thanks for your comments!

5/11/2007 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have an iq in the 140s but poor impulse control and sensation seeking tendencies, consiquently eating garbage. and wasn't einstein one of those stupid vegans? man i'd hate to be as dumb as him or such a hit with the ladies.

10/19/2008 9:01 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Given that the sample of reported vegans in the study was so small (9 people), you can hardly call 5 points less a "substantial drop in IQ", or draw any meaningful conclusions from that figure.

9/21/2009 10:20 AM  
Anonymous maryam said...

I am going to echo Matt's comment above - there were 9 vegan participants! Your analysis is non-scientific and flimsy, and it's actually embarrassing to read.

9/22/2009 8:32 PM  

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