Brazilian vegans are happy

"Results were better for vegans and for the ones who adopt the diet for ethical or health reasons."

A new study from Brazil (University of Brasilia) has tested what not many have tested before: quality of life in meat-reducers and vegetarians. Note that average meat-munching Brazilians (my words) were not part of this study.
In addition, the researchers of this study created a new questionnaire to specifically assess quality of life in vegetarians (and meat-reducers). They call this questionnaire the "Vegetarian Quality of Life Questionnaire (VEGQOL)".
This study was quite big: 5014 participants in total (from all over Brazil) - "representative of the Brazilian vegetarian [and meat-reducer] population". And of these 1559 (i.e. ~31%) were vegans.

"According to data from the Brazilian Institute of Public Opinion and Statistics (IBOPE), 14% of the overall Brazilian population are classified as vegetarians" [IBOPE 2018].

Results of the study
"In general, the quality of life of Brazilian vegetarians was considered satisfactory (VEGQOL cut off points 70–80). Among different types of vegetarians, the vegans showed better results with a VEGQOL mean value of 79 [...]", followed by vegetarians (VEGQOL score: 73), pescatarians (VEGQOL score: 70), and finally semi-vegetarians (VEGQOL score: 64).

"When the cut-off points were considered for the mean analysis, vegans and vegetarians were
classified as having satisfactory [quality of life], while pesco- and semi-vegetarians were classified as having regular [quality of life]."

"[.] more than half (53.8%) of vegans had either good or very good [quality of life] (score > 80),
while the same result was observed in 31.4% of vegetarians, 22.8% of pesco-vegetarians and only 12.8% of semi-vegetarians."

"On the other hand, low [quality of life] (score < 60) was observed in 39.7% of semi-vegetarians
and in only 5.9% of vegans."

"When motivation was analyzed by comparing the cut-off points, 38.8% of the individuals who adopted the diet for ethical reason had either good or very good [quality of life]. The ones who adopted the diet for personal health reasons of due to religion had similar results, with 32.8% and 31% of them classified as having good or very good [quality of life]. The same classification was observed in 28.6% of the individuals who are vegetarians due to environmental concerns. The ones adopting the diet due to aversion/intolerance or other reasons had 24.7% and 28.3% of the individuals classified as having good or very good [quality of life], respectively."

Factors associated with a higher quality of life:
  • Having other vegetarians in one's social network
  • Having followed this dietary pattern for a longer period of time (best results if more than 5 years)
  • Having adopted this dietary pattern for ethical or health reasons

Interesting points from the discussion (section of the article)
  • "[...] it could be expected that people who chose to adopt a vegetarian diet might have a lower perception of [quality of life]. On the other hand, vegetarianism can trigger positive feelings of peace and happiness, related to spiritual benefits, personal satisfaction, increased pleasure with the diet, environmental care, contribution to a more peaceful world and better [quality of life]."
  • In a study conducted in the United States with workers of a company, volunteers adopted a vegan diet for 22 weeks and [quality of life] was evaluated, as well as food acceptability and work productivity. Mental health and general satisfaction with the diet increased and they also saw improvements in general health, vitality and physical aptitude. However, participants reported having more di culties finding options to eat out."
  • "A [study with young vegan women in Australia] supports this theory. According to the study participants, becoming vegan for ethical reasons brought them a deep sense of belonging, as they started identifying themselves as part of the vegan community. Adopting a vegan lifestyle resulted in a positive impact on their relationships with themselves and with others."
  • "It has already been described that [...] vegetarians, especially vegans, have higher diet quality [Parker and Vadiveloo 2019], which can positively influence their [quality if life] perception [.]."
  • "[...] corporations have been following the trend, offering more vegetarian and vegan alternatives to fulfill the consumers’ demands [66].These changes can bring a positive impact on vegetarians and vegans['] [quality of life], especially among those who adopt the diet due to aversion or intolerance to animal products, which are the ones who have lower [quality of life] when compared to other vegetarians, according to our study."

Is this relevant to non-vegetarians?
  • "Understanding the effect of vegetarianism on [quality of life] can support health professionals (doctors, dietitians, psychologists)" in their understanding of vegetarians, meat-reducers, and their motivations.
  • This might also be relevant to "institutions, public agencies and private entities [who] can adopt tools and strategies aimed at assisting [vegetarians and meat-reducers]."

Costa et al. 2019: "More Than a Diet": A Qualitative Investigation of Young Vegan Women's Relationship to Food. Appetite 2019 Dec 1;143:104418. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2019.104418.

IBOPE 2018: Inteligência I. 14% da populac¸ão se declara vegetariana. 2018 [cited 10 Jul 2018]. Available:

Minari Hargreaves et al. 2020: Brazilian Vegetarian Population - Influence of Type of Diet, Motivation and Sociodemographic Variables on Quality of Life Measured by Specific Tool (VEGQOL). Nutrients 2020, 12(5), 1406;

Parker and Vadiveloo 2019: Diet quality of vegetarian diets compared with nonvegetarian diets: a systematic review. Nutrition Reviews, Volume 77, Issue 3, March 2019, Pages 144–160, Published: 08 January 2019