If you’re a vegan, then you already know about all the trials and tribulations you face on a day-to-day basis. Your family makes jokes at the dinner table about how you only eat artificial turkey. Your friends question you and quiz you constantly, and random people always ask the ridiculous question, “Do you really not eat meat– not even bacon?”
When you post anything on your Instagram account about being vegan or being at a vegan restaurant, you receive all kinds of annoying and patience-testing comments about how veganism is not natural and meat is the reason humans are intelligent. Dating can be a task as well, unless you just so happen to date a vegan. It all gets old after awhile.
However, it seems that vegans may finally be having the last laugh! That’s right. According to a few recent studies, individuals who choose meatless diets are more intelligent and empathetic than their meat-eating counterparts. Sounds like a huge claim that will cause a bunch of arguments and controversy between vegans and omnivores, but hey, it’s backed by science. Real science defeats bro science on any given day. Let’s explore these claims and how they came to be.
Vegans are More Empathetic
According to a recent study led by Italian neuroscientist Massimo Filippi, vegans are more empathetic–for both animals and people–than meat-eaters. For the study, researchers recruited 20 meat-eaters, 21 vegans, and 19 vegetarians with aims to analyze how their brains functioned or reacted when presented with a series of soundless videos of humans, monkeys and pigs performing so-called “mouth actions”. Essentially, Filippi aimed to learn whether or not vegetarian and vegan brains were working to figure out what the animals in the footage were trying to communicate.
So that leads to the question at hand: are vegans more empathetic than meat-eaters? Well, the research suggests that the answer is yes. After studies were performed, the researchers concluded that plant-eaters may be more empathetic towards animals as well as humans, based on the higher activation of different empathy-related networks in the brain when watching the silent video clips. Vegans think differently than meat-eaters, using different areas of the brain that relate to higher levels of empathy.
Driving The Point Home
By definition, empathy is the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another. So when we think about vegans, honestly, the results of this study comes as no surprise to most people.
After all, vegans are already commonly considered to be more empathetic since well, you know, they’re avoiding eating animals out of care and respect. They also tend to be more empathetic in that they care about the environment and bettering the lives of others in need.
Of course, I’m fairly certain that there are a few terrible vegans out there who show no respect or care for others. There’s always a few bad apples in the bunch. However, they are anomalies, so don’t consider them when judging vegans at scale. Generally, vegans are empathetic people with respect and care for animals, people, and the environment.
Vegans are More Intelligent
Before we dive into this claim, let’s lay down some foundation first. As a general fact, a diet that lacks enough protein can affect brain health, productivity, and levels of intelligence. Because of this fact, most vegans and vegetarians receive negative feedback from meat-eaters/omnivores, who argue that they may be less intelligent because their diet must be protein deficient.
However, the truth is quite the opposite. People who consume a well-balanced vegan diet can absolutely eat more protein than people who eat meat. In fact, a vegan diet often provides twice the amount of protein humans require, while still having the benefit of being rich in vitamins and nutrients that make for a strong mind and body.
Basically, any claim that vegans are less intelligent than meat-eaters because they lack protein in their diet is false. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s continue.
Recent studies by the National Child Development Study have shown that more intelligent individuals are more likely to become vegans than meat-loving counterparts. In their study, the researchers used 11 different cognitive tests to analyze the subject group at three different ages, before they turned 16 years of age. They discovered two important findings.
First of all, those who have significantly higher levels of intelligence as children are more likely to change personal habits with respect to the world around them such as choosing to eliminate meat from their diet. Also, the study showed that vegetarian/vegan women at the age of 42 had a mean childhood IQ of 109, compared to their meat-eating counterparts who had a mean childhood IG of 100.9. When men were studies, it was found that vegan men at age 42 had a mean childhood IQ of 111.0, and their meat-eating friends had a mean childhood IQ of 101.0. Overall, that’s a 10-point difference! That means a lot when discussing someone’s level of intelligence.
But that’s not all. The well-known evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kansawa has also studied this claim that vegans are more intelligent. The Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis, the result of her studies, supports a correlation between a vegan diet and higher levels of intelligence in a person. Her hypothesis/finding is based on the fact that one’s ability to change their personal habits in response to challenges in the world is strongest in people with higher intelligence levels. One of the personal habits that these people tend to change is caring for animals and adopting a vegan diet.
Driving the Point Home
Basically, people with more intelligence adjust to changes in their environment and can rationalize better on what action they should take or what changes they should make. On the other hand, those with less intelligence tend to become overwhelmed and take no action. The findings from these studies prove that there is a direct correlation between veganism and intelligence and empathy, which makes total sense. Most vegans are vegans because they have educated themselves about global warming and how the meat industry is the biggest culprit. They also educate themselves on the terrible practices of mass meat farming, which results in over 56 billion animals being slaughtered yearly. What you put on your plate is a decision you make at least three times a day, so think before you act. It might just make you smarter.
Wrapping Things Up
As you can see, adopting a vegan diet and lifestyle indeed makes you a smarter and more empathetic person. When you consciously make decisions and changes that benefit others and the environment around you, such as converting to a vegan lifestyle to save the animals and reduce global warming, that is a prominent sign of higher intelligence. And by thinking about what has to happen in order to produce a burger patty before you decide to eat it, you show higher levels of empathy. Of course, there are countless other benefits that come with adopting a vegan lifestyle. A few of them include:
- Lower body weight (BMI) and levels of fat: Once you become vegan, the extra weight usually disappears over time without dieting or exercise. Of course, exercise is still recommended, but veganism makes it easy to lose weight.
- Having smooth and glowing skin: Thanks to the high levels of nutrients and antioxidants in a vegan diet, vegans tend to have better circulation that results in smooth and glowy skin. Seriously.
- Significantly reduced risk of developing diseases like cancer and hypertension: The truth is, diseases often come from our diet, and diets containing animals products also carry carcinogens. By eliminating animal products from our diet, we drastically reduce our chances of developing these deadly diseases.
- Higher levels of happiness: Since they have a high level of understanding about what’s important to them and do things in service of others, vegans tend to live happier and healthier lives.
- Higher levels of energy and motivation: Since vegan diets are rich in all the vitamins and nutrients the body craves, vegans enjoy higher levels of energy as well as motivation throughout the day. Although many vegans drink coffee, it is usually not for any purpose other than enjoyment. They do not rely on caffeine to stay productive.
- Enjoy a longer life: Due to their many health advantages, vegans live on average six to nine years longer than meat-eaters. That’s huge.
Of course, the first step to making a change in your life is to educate yourself on what the situation is, why you want to change and how to change it. Although this article doesn’t cover how to change, it serves the purpose of covering what the situation is and why you (should) want to change. The overall argument is: go vegan and become more empathetic and intelligent.