Strong correlation between diet and mindfulness practices

Tannenbaum, S. L., et al. (2014). Mindful Vegetarians. In 142nd American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15-November 19, 2014).

From the Abstract. Vegetarian diets are a lifestyle choice made for various reasons, including health. Mindfulness practices may encourage lifestyle choices through cultivating awareness. This study explores the association between mindfulness practice and vegetarianism.

Nationally representative data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) Alternative Medicine Supplement (years 2002, 2007, 2012) were pooled for adults aged 18+. For the previous 12-month period, participants were asked if they followed a vegetarian diet for at least 2-weeks, and if they engaged in mindfulness-based practices such as yoga and meditation (n=67,625). Yoga/meditation practice information was combined into the following categories: 1) neither, 2) yoga only, 3) meditation only, 4) both. Analyses were adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, survey year, and complex survey design effects.

The prevalence of yoga, meditation, and vegetarian diet was 7.5%, 7.6%, and 1.9%, respectively. Compared to participants not engaged in either practice in the past 12-months, individuals practicing only yoga were more likely to be vegetarian. Those practicing both were most likely to have been vegetarian within the past year.

There may be many reasons why mindfulness practitioners tend to be vegetarians, as such practice might increase one’s compassion towards other beings (animals), a desire to decrease environmental impact, and as a manifestation of self-care. Regardless, given such a strong correlation between diet and mindfulness practices, both factors should be considered in health outcome and mortality lifestyle.