Many vegans and vegetarians have received negative comments about their intelligence due to people feeling that they must be protein deficient.
Protein deficiency is known to affect brain health, productivity, and intelligence.
However, the truth is quite the opposite as those who consume a well-balanced vegetarian diet can receive higher levels of protein than those who eat meat. And, vegetarianism can even provide twice the amount of protein we require, along with a strong and healthy body and mind.
Interestingly, scientific research carried out by The National Child Development Study also supports this claim, with their findings showing that the vegetarians they analyzed in the United Kingdom are not only more intelligent, but also more empathetic than their meat-eating counterparts.
The definition of the word “intelligence” is: someone who has the capacity to rationalize and reason, problem solve, and effectively adapt to his or her environment.
The definition of the word “empathetic” is: someone who can share someone else’s feelings, by imagining how it might feel to experience someone else’s (human or animal) emotions and feelings.
When carrying out the study, researchers used 11 different cognitive tests to analyze the subject group at three different ages before they turned 16. They discovered that those who have significantly higher general intelligence when they are children are more likely to change personal habits that affect the world around them, and one of these habits is consuming meat.
The study showed that women who were vegetarian at the age of 42 had a mean childhood IQ of 109.0, whereas those who were meat eaters at 42 had a mean childhood IQ of 100.9.
Men who were vegetarian at 42 had a mean childhood IQ of 111.0, and male meat eaters had a mean childhood IQ of 101.0.
The study implies that those who opt for a vegetarian diet, described as, “The practice of living wholly on vegetable food, with or without dairy products, honey, and eggs,” are doing so due to intelligent, empathetic, and rational decision-making, rather than maintaining a diet based on parental and cultural conditioning.
Historically, humans are omnivores. Therefore, vegetarianism is an evolutionary novel concept that vegetarians are willing to adopt. “Evolutionary novel” is a term to describe the preferences, values, and beliefs that humans are not biologically designed to have, and ones that our ancestors were not likely to have held.
Those with a higher childhood IQ are more likely to pay attention to the harmful impact that meat has on the environment, and also to the cruelty involved in mass factory farming, and then make a conscious choice to alter their lifestyle so that they reduce the effects. This means the vegetarians who choose not to consume animals for humane reasons rather than health or environmental ones, are emotionally, as well as generally, intelligent.
The findings from this study showed that there was a correlation between vegetarianism and intelligence and empathy, which seems to make perfect sense. Many vegetarians have educated themselves about global warming, and about how cattle are widely believed to be the biggest contributor. They are also aware that many of the 56 billion animals that are slaughtered annually are subjected to barbaric and inhumane acts of violence and cruelty.
Many animal cruelty laws do not protect livestock animals. Therefore, “Farmed animals are often beaten, mutilated, and painfully slaughtered.” Although the majority of people are aware that most farmed animals are treated barbarically, they still choose to continue to eat them—and usually not for their own survival.
Melanie Joy, author of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism, describes how people’s core values, ethics, and morals are compromised when they consume meat or dairy. And, yet, they justify this by telling themselves that it is “normal, natural, and necessary.”
Joy believes this has a huge impact on our hearts and minds, as many people would naturally feel empathy for an animal that is suffering; however, as soon as it is time to eat, their carnism provides them with the ability to instantly dissolve their empathy.
Many people are affectionate and loving toward the animals they share their homes with and yet they don’t see how contradicting it is to then buy into extreme cruelty by purchasing the flesh or fluids of other creatures to satisfy their taste buds.
If we want a little further proof that intelligence and vegetarianism are interrelated, we only need to read what a few of the greatest minds the world has ever known had to say:
“Although I have been prevented by outward circumstances from observing a strictly vegetarian diet, I have long been an adherent to the cause in principle. Besides agreeing with the aims of vegetarianism for aesthetic and moral reasons, it is my view that a vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.” ~ Albert Einstein
It is widely believed that Albert Einstein turned vegetarian in his last year of life. Although we might ponder what took this intelligent man so long to alter his diet, it is worth noting that vegetarianism was not a popular, or easy, choice to make in his day.
“On the general principles the raising of cattle as a means of providing food is objectionable, because, in the sense interpreted above, it must undoubtedly tend to the addition of mass of a ‘smaller velocity.’ It is certainly preferable to raise vegetables, and I think, therefore, that vegetarianism is a commendable departure from the established barbarous habit. That we can subsist on plant food and perform our work even to advantage is not a theory, but a well-demonstrated fact.” ~ Nikola Tesla
“Animals are my friends…and I don’t eat my friends.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
“Eating flesh is unprovoked murder.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
“A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.” ~ Leo Tolstoy
To all those who argue that Adolf Hitler was vegetarian—and often say it in a way to try to discredit claims that vegetarianism is linked to empathy—just because Hitler claimed to be vegetarian doesn’t mean he actually was, or for reasons that were anything other than beneficial to himself. It is widely known that he was paranoid that his meals might be poisoned, so he mainly consumed fresh fruit and vegetables. It was also claimed that he did eat meat from time to time and only tried to avoid it as he hoped that would cure his chronic flatulence.
For years, the meat and dairy industry have tried to convince us that these things are good for us, without allowing us to see a true image of what occurs behind the scenes. Those with intelligence and empathy open their eyes to the systematic abuse—as much as it pains them to be aware of the suffering that animals and our planet is enduring. From there, they make rational choices that not only reduce cruelty toward innocent animals, but also work to preserve and sustain our planet Earth and minimize world hunger.
We all have the chance to make a difference, and to start choosing alternatives today. The animals have no voice. They cannot protect themselves. There are plenty of alternatives readily available so we can easily refuse to purchase from industries that use and abuse animals for their meat, fluid, or skin.
I’ll end this piece with a fitting quote by Charles Darwin: “There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.”
To order a free vegetarian starter guide, please click here.
For a guide to becoming dairy-free, click here.
Author: Alex Myles
Image: @ecofolks on Instagram
Editor: Leah Sugerman
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Yoli Ramazzina