Vegetarianism - Life Style Choice or Delusional Thinking

8 May 2013 11:11 AMChristine Barnes

Most of my patients have chronic ailments such as cancers, liver toxicity etc . All of my patients have gut issues in one way or another, in addition to their primary concerns. Many of my patients are also, or have been, long-term vegetarians, and further have, or exhibit signs of, pyrroluria. Is there a connection ?

Whilst the sample is far too small to draw any conclusions from, my own research and experience suggests that vegetarianism and, in particular, veganism, is less a life-style choice, but more a form of malnutrition opted for by either irrational or misinformed thinking, or even delusional thinking.


When people decide to become vegetarians, often at early ages, they may say that they are simply responding on an emotional basis to the treatment of animals reared for slaughter*. They may say, in a misguided intellectual way, they're trying to make a personal contribution to sustaining the planet (although being an omnivore may well be more sustainable for the planet than being a vegetarian). They may even be taking an arguable ethical position on animal rights. They may say all of these things and not know that they're brains aren't actually working properly.


I would suggest  that pyroluria might already be affecting (deluding?) the way some brains are "thinking" prior to making a decision on becoming a vegetarian/vegan.  My gut instinct (pun intended) tells me a great deal more research needs to be done on the relationship between pyroluria (and the way in which the body and mind reacts with pyroluria)  and the choosing of vegetarianism, and in particular veganism, as a life-style. 


For example, are people who are affected by pyroluria more attracted than non-sufferers towards the idea of vegetarianism because its a way in which they can see themselves as being different as well as giving themselves a defined set of rules to live by ? Developing a distance (emotional, social, geographic, et al) between the individual and accepted social norms can certainly be part of the pyroluric picture, as indeed can requiring a much stronger and personalised regulatory framework within which to operate. Vegetarianism and, even more so, veganism allows expression to both those urges.


Another reason for choosing vegetarianism  might be a compromised digestive system - a symptom of, but not exclusive to, pyroluria. Such a digestive system can present reactions to foods which may in turn motivate individuals to become "picky" eaters or limit the variety in their diet. In addition, vitamin deficiencies resulting from a compromised gut can impact on mood  For example, B6 deficiency is common in individuals who experience emotional challenges from mild anxiety all the way through to schizophrenia  But what part, if any, does pyroluria itself play in the "to be or not to be a vego" decision?


Could there be a connection between the cliched picture of the earnest and serious, often confrontational and clearly depressed vegetarian/vegan and pyroluria ? 


It is very much the case that If you have pyroluria, your mood and overall thinking are negatively affected - and you won't know it, until after the associated deficiencies and gut issues have been resolved. And part of that treatment will be dealing with dietary issues including the processing of organic animal fats*. (Oh yes, there's more to treating pyroluria than overloading on B6 and Zinc and other supplements.) 


As for the mood of vegetarians, I'm sure that there are some generally happy individual vegetarians who have extremely efficient digestive systems and are able to absorb nutrients that are generally only readily available from animal proteins (although one would question their ability to maintain this "high level" absorption throughout the various stages of life) and their mood is not affected by their choice of diet.


For the rest of us without gold medal performing digestive systems (including most vegetarians and vegans),  a lack of ability to absorb efficiently B group (e.g., B6, B12) and D vitamins, certain minerals (magnesium, zinc, iron and selenium) and organic animal* fatty acids and proteins would certainly affect our mood and our thinking. And more so vegetarians and vegans than the rest of the meat/fish eating community. At least meat/fish eaters give the body direct access to the animal constituents which are good for our brains, absorption issues notwithstanding. Vegetarians and especially vegans, on the other hand,  restrict their diets, and some of those restrictions starve their bodies of certain animals fats/oils and vitamins which they need to perform well, especially mentally.  The brain needs fats and oils to help it think, and the levels of EPA and DHA in vego/vegan diets are much lower than meat/fish-eaters (even taking into account the widespread supplementation of fish oil and alpha-linolenic acid). Similarly, the brain also requires certain vitamins and minerals which may be deficient some vegans and vegetarians. Does this deficit lead to a more common incidence of depression and depressive thinking in vegetarians/vegans as a whole (let's not include religious communities such as 7th Day adventists where religious practice and belief might clearly skew the result) ?  If so, is this increased depression due only to the restrictive vegan/vego diet, or did a mood issue in the form of suffering from pyroluria already exist prior to the vegan/vego lifestyle being adopted ?


I would find research into the incidence of pyroluria among vegans versus the rest of the community more than interesting. And if, as I suspect, pyroluria is of a greater occurrence in vegans than the general population, one might then explore the possibility that pyroluria (and its impact on rational thinking) may indeed have made an unseen but important contribution to the decision behind becoming a vegan in the first place. Such a possibility might lead to a different way of responding to the decision to become a vegan or vegetarian, often made by young teenagers, particularly girls, when their brains are still forming. When parents tell their teenage off-spring that they're not thinking properly regarding not eating meat, they could well be literally correct.


Before I get inundated by the vegan/veg communities in response to the above, I should say I am not unaware of historical cultures, particular ex India, and particular of religious and quasi-religious groups, that have endured for many generations as vegetarian societies. But, I will state that there is a huge difference between being born into a culture of vegetarians, and being born into a Western society where meat/fish have been a major part of the diet for centuries.  One can't change one's DNA expectations overnight and not expect some form of negative impact.


I am also not unaware that pyroluria according to Wiki is a theoretical condition, even deemed snake oil. Yet at the same time, I have seen very positive results in the mood of my patients when treating in a very practical way the symptomology of this so-called theoretical condition. 


So, in conclusion, before you consider being a vegetarian or vegan (or even if you already are a vegan/vegetarian), ask yourself "Am I thinking to the best of my ability ?". Before you answer that question, consider taking The Body Guard's written questionnaire for pyroluria or the actual test. If the answer is positive, you are most definitely not thinking clearly, so the answer must be "No". If you do not have pyroluria, then think again.  Are you being indulgent and simply ignoring facts that speak to the contrary ?




I should acknowledge that I was a vegetarian for 10 years following intensive high level yoga and meditation training courses that I participated in over many years. I eventually found my body giving early expression to the same bowel cancer that  has been carried down the female line of my family. Following the removal of the cancer, I returned to eating meat and fish regularly, and the cancer has not returned or metastasized, nor has my previous sensitivity to anxiety and stress. 



No vegetarians or vegans were harmed in the writing of this article.


*For the purpose of this article, animal fats come from organic grass-fed lamb, cattle etc, and fish is wild caught and deep sea and not farmed. The consumption of grain-fed animals and farmed fish has a variety of resulting health issues that actually reverse the benefits of eating meat and fish, particularly in the balance of omega 3 and 6 with a direct negative impact on mental function.


If you are depressed or finding it hard to cope, help is available 24 hrs a day at Lifeline 13 11 14 24.

Hi Catherine,

Thanks for taking the time to comment on my article.

Eating vegetables, fish and eggs, makes you an ova pescatarian!

Or as you say a vegetarian that eats seafood and eggs;)

The bottom line is that you are already eating animal products (fish and eggs). These are terrific in reducing inflammation and easy to digest proteins and nutrients.

Chronic thyroid and cortisol regulation requires an individualized, targeted approach to treatment. This would include diet.

I've just posted a new article that may interest you about the thyroid:-

Good luck in your health journey and thanks again for visiting.

Kind regards


I have Pyrroluria. I am vegetarian with seafood and eggs and some dairy but only since end of last year. I have longer term health issues Thyroid and high Cortisol. Can I get away with this. Or do you tell people they must eat other meat?

I have Pyrroluria. I am vegetarian with seafood and eggs and some dairy but only since end of last year. I have longer term health issues Thyroid and high Cortisol. Can I get away with this. Or do you tell people they must eat other meat?

Leave a Comment