People on meatless diets are found to be more prone to mental health problems, such as depression, panic disorders and obsessive-compulsive behavior. Referring to some Australian and German studies, a recent article says people consuming plant-based diets are at a greater risk of anxiety and panic attacks as well as depression.

The article, published in Women’s Health, cites the experience of Columbia University psychiatrist Drew Ramsey to support the link between a vegetarian diet and mental health problems. The psychiatrist examined a woman who started suffering panic attacks after adopting vegetarianism and saw a decline in her emotional health problems after meat was added back to her diet.

According to the CNBC, Women’s Health quotes doctors to acknowledge that increase in emotional and mental problems is linked with lack of animal proteins in the body. The publication points to the Paleolithic diet as an example of the positive effects of a balanced diet. The Paleolithic diet, which is becoming increasingly popular worldwide, focuses on meat and vegetables, while excluding sugar, alcohol and processed foods.

The Australian study cited by Women’s Health found that vegetarians are 18 percent more likely to suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, among other mental and emotional health issues, as compared to meat-eaters. This finding is endorsed by the German study, which says that vegetarians are 15 percent more likely to experience depressive conditions. They are also twice as likely to suffer from anxiety disorders, the German study further says.

"Food is a factor in mental health. We should be talking about it,” Women’s Health quotes Ramsay as saying. Ramsey further says, “You can't just make a sweeping change to your diet and expect it won't have any effect on you mentally.”

The findings come at a time when vegetarianism is on the rise, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently finding processed and red meats to be linked with cancer.

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