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Psychology Today: Vegetarians have higher IQs than meateaters

psychologytoday.com | 05/31/10

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Another evolutionarily novel value is vegetarianism.  It is exceedingly unnatural for humans to be vegetarian.

Humans are naturally omnivorous.  We are evolutionarily designed to eat both animal meat and plants.  Anyone who eschewed animal protein and ate only vegetables in the ancestral environment, in the face of constant food scarcity and precariousness of its supply, was not likely to have survived long enough and stayed healthy enough to have left many offspring.  So such a person is not likely to have become our ancestors.  On the other hand, anyone who preferentially ate animal protein and fat in the ancestral environment would have been much more likely to live longer and stay healthier.  They are therefore much more likely to have become our ancestors.

Vegetarianism would therefore be an evolutionarily novel value and lifestyle, as well as a luxury of abundance.  The Hypothesis would predict that more intelligent individuals are more likely to choose to become a vegetarian than less intelligent individuals.

This indeed appears to be the case.  Among the British respondents in the National Child Development Study, those who are vegetarian at age 42 have significantly higher childhood general intelligence than those who are not vegetarian at age 42.  (Childhood general intelligence was measured with 11 different cognitive tests at three ages before 16.)  Vegetarians have the mean childhood IQ of 109.1 whereas meat eaters have the mean childhood IQ of 100.9.  The difference is large and highly statistically significant.

Vegetarian NCDS

The relationship holds both among women and men separately.  Among women, vegetarians have the mean childhood IQ of 108.0 while meat eaters have the mean childhood IQ of 100.7.  Among men, vegetarians have the mean childhood IQ of 111.0 and meat eaters have the mean childhood IQ of 101.1, a 10-point difference!

 

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