Does a vegetarian diet lead to long-term happiness?

Does a vegetarian diet lead to long-term happiness?


My name is Chris Wharton. I’m an associate professor of nutrition and
interim director of the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion at ASU. So, Vegetarian Day is coming up, and we thought
it would be a good idea to visit one of the markets in the Valley. We’ve actually been interested recently in
not thinking about food just in terms of hedonic happiness, which is the notion of immediate
gratification, but instead about eudemonic happiness, or long-term fulfillment. And the notion is here, when you choose, say,
for example, a vegetarian diet, it is essentially restrictive. You’re excluding some foods from that. But it may actually lead to increased eudemonic
happiness — that’s long-term fulfillment — because you’re bringing in these multiple
motivators: the sense of ethics or interest in sustainability along with interests in
health. And one strategy for being more healthful
as well as being more sustainable is to go local and eat more plant foods. So supporting local farmers, local agriculture
is really important to support a resilient and diversified food system. Americans on average consume 30 percent of
the calories a day from animal foods. And this is not necessarily problematic, but
if you want to increase potential benefits to your health, as well as benefits to the
environment, one thing you can do, and that researchers have actually suggested in recent
studies, is to decrease the total calories per day that you’re consuming from animal
foods. So currently we’re at 30 percent right now. Researchers have suggested dropping down to,
say, 10 to 15 percent, so dropping your animal food consumption by half or two-thirds could
actually elicit incredible health benefits as well as environmental benefits. People can generally be concerned about, you
know, how do we incorporate whole foods into our diet. There’s a lot of prep time and these sorts
of things can be difficult. But there are actually products like this
that don’t need any prep at all; it’s just a matter of opening up and eating.