One study thinks so!

A major scientific study authored by researchers from the University of Queensland and the University of Warwick has revealed eating fruit and vegetables not only reduces risk of cancer and heart attacks, but also increases happiness levels with each extra portion consumed. The release of the new study coincides with Meat Free Week. A dynamic awareness and fundraising campaign that motivates action, Meat Free Week is about making the choice to eat less meat, care more and feel good.

Going meat free for one week creates a great opportunity to get people thinking about how much meat they eat and the impact consuming too much may have on their health not only physically, but now in light of new research, mentally.

The goal is that during the other 51 weeks of the year meat-eaters will consider portion sizes when including meat as part of a balanced diet. This new study suggests health benefits from eating fruits and vegetables may extend beyond the body to the mind, which makes the Meat Free Week challenge even more compelling. The study, soon to be published in the prestigious American Journal of Public Health, followed more than 12,000 people, and found that alterations in fruit and vegetable intake were predictive of later alterations in happiness and satisfaction with life. People who transitioned over a two-year period from a diet consisting of barely any fruit or vegetables to one that included eight portions per day, had the same increase in life satisfaction as someone who went from being unemployed to employed.

Less than 10 per cent of Australians meet the current guidelines recommending five serves of vegetables each day and less than half meet the recommendation of two serves of fruit[i] the UK, only 30 per cent of adults and 41 per cent of older adults met the ‘5-a-day’ recommendation[ii]. However, we hope the new research will encourage more people to take up the challenge and sign on for Meat Free Week this year.

About the research

“Evolution of well-being and happiness after increases in the consumption of fruit and vegetables” by Redzo Mujcic and Andrew Oswald, forthcoming in the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health. The paper will be available here.

About Claire Annear

Claire Annear is Campaign Manager for Meat Free Week and Community Engagement Manager at Bowel Cancer Australia, challenging perceptions through dynamic campaigning that raises awareness and motivates action. Claire works with individuals, groups and organisations making it simple for them to engage with and support Bowel Cancer Australia's extensive programs and activities as well as managing mutually beneficial corporate partnerships with health conscious and socially responsible companies both large and small. She has a passion for online, social media and emerging technologies, and their power to inspire the community to engage with life-changing information and charitable activities whatever their preferred medium.