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IQ of Vegetarian Children

The mental age of children eating plant-based diets appears to exceed their peers.

September 15, 2010 |
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Supplementary Info

Sources Cited


Image thanks to Tom & Katrien


OK so the bronze goes to hormonal genital meat malformation. The silver goes to a study on IQ and vegetarianism. First let me share a little background. We've known for nearly 30 years that vegetarian children test smarter than omnivorous kids. First shown in a 1980 study at Tufts University, the IQ of vegetarian children is found to be about 16 points above average. And their "mental age" was a year ahead of the rest of their classmates. Of all the veg kids, the vegan kids appear the smartest. The pediatricians, psychologists knew the veg kids were bright but the researcher noted that they were puzzled that they were so much superior. Which came first, though? The chicken or the egg, well for the vegan kids, neither perhaps but were they smart because they were vegetarians and therefore getting all that nutrition or did they become vegetarian because they were so smart? Well the mystery has finally been solved, I guess. Those fantastic Brits followed 8,000 kids for thirty years. Measured their IQ at age 10, then came back 20 years later and asked which of them had become vegetarian during that time. Their findings? Higher scores for IQ in childhood are associated with an increased likelihood of being a vegetarian as an adult. Smart people evidently eat vegetarian. They even quote Benjamin Franklin saying vegetarian diets result in "greater clearness of head and quicker comprehension".

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out theother videos on children. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on children. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

  • Turing

    Why do you think the vegans in the British study had the lowest IQs? This is the opposite of what happened in the other study. Do you have a link to the full 1980 study?

  • Christina Marquardt

    I am raising my daughter vegetarian, mostly vegan. She was doing sign language by 3 months, and could speak before she was 1. She has absolutely no issues in school, and at 8, is reading at a 6th grade level. She also understands words up to 12th grade level. Though I don’t know whether intelligence causes vegetarianism or vice versa, the diet and lifestyle really works for us, and it helps us stay healthy and take care of our planet too!

  • veggieone

    Are you a vegetarian, Doctor?

    • Thea

      veggieone: I do not speak for Dr. Greger, but in case he doesn’t have time to reply, I thought I would share that it is my understanding that Dr. Greger does indeed follow his own nutrition recommendations – which is to be a whole plant food based eater. The following link is the complete, more detailed set of nutrition recommendations:

      Hope that helps.