GRAZ, AUSTRIA (CBS) – Vegetarians are more likely than meat eaters to say they feel unhealthy.

That’s according to a new Austrian study out of the Institute for Social Medicine and Epidemiology (IFES) at the Medical University in Graz.

Researchers say they used 15,000 case studies, which they then divided into three nutritional groups: vegetarians, meat eaters and those who ate according to the “Mediterranean diet” (lots of fruits and veggies with moderate meat consumption). Next, they selected 343 vegetarians and looked at their age, sex, social and economic backgrounds and compared those people to someone who matched them in the other two nutritional groups.

What they found is that in addition to having higher levels of allergies, cancer and psychological problems, vegetarians were more likely to report feeling unhealthy.

“We found the results from the data very exciting, which is why we decided to publish it,” the study’s lead author, Nathalie Burkert, told the Austrian Times. “Vegetarians freely admitted that they seemed to go to the doctors often because of physical problems, although they less often went for check-ups and immunizations.”

Burkert does admit, however, that it’s not clear whether vegetarians opted for that diet because they had a “lower quality of life,” or if that lower quality of life was created by going veg.

“This was not something that we evaluated,” she said.

Addition to their findings on vegetarians, the researchers say they also found the Mediterranean diet was the healthiest of the three.

“It was clear from our results that a diet that includes a moderate amount of meat rich with fruit and vegetables was reflected in a generally healthier person. They had better health, and a better quality of life and fewer visits to the doctors. That was simply what the data portrayed, that those on a mixed diet had the advantages,” Burkert said.

To read more on the study, click here.

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