The Journal of Affective Disorders has published research stating that beef is the only meal linked to a lower incidence of depression.

The purpose of this study was to investigate whether there is a relationship between vegetarianism and depression in adults.

The study’s 14,216 Brazilian participants between the ages 35-74 were asked if they followed a meatless diet; episodes of depression were then identified through interviews.

After monitoring the relationship between plant-based diets and mental health, researchers considered a variety of factors including sociodemographic variables, smoking or alcohol consumption, levels of physical activity, self-assessed health status, body mass index, and nutrition throughout the previous six months.

Researchers found that people who followed meatless diets were actually twice as likely to experience depressive episodes than those who ate beef.

Although the authors of the study claim that “nutrient deficiencies do not explain this association,” other experts disagree.

Beef has several nutrients, including iron, vitamin B, zinc, and protein, which aid brain functions and have been found to be beneficial in preventing depression.

“Whenever an individual excludes an entire food group, in this case, protein and fat sources, and does not replace it with equally nutritionally adequate options, it will affect a variety of systemic and physiological functions such as cognitive health,” Monique Richard, an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson, told Healthline.

Richard, who was not part of the study team, noted that they would have to do further testing to see if nutrient deficiencies were actually causing the findings.

“Other factors that would be important to assess would be if the person felt isolated or disconnected from others related to their dietary choice,” Richard stated.

The researchers’ conclusions were that the data didn’t provide a clear enough association and more information would be needed to better understand the relationship.