The idea that people can only find brain-boosting and depression-fighting compounds in meat or animal products is absurd. If you suffer from a neurological mental health disorder, there are many plant-based foods that contain amazing depression-fighting and stress-relieving properties. You can find three depression-fighting compounds, which people think are only found in meat, and how to get them into your system below.
Essential Item #1: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Numerous studies have found that omega-3s are essential for a healthy functioning brain and body. These healthy fatty acids help to lower cholesterol, decrease inflammation in the body, and help alleviate ailments such as arthritis and asthma. They are also essential for fighting the debilitating effects of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s, as well as fighting to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and tumors. They are also a key weapon in the fight against depression.
Most websites will tell you that the best omega-3 sources are fish, cod liver, or other fish products. Flaxseeds are high in omega-3s, but the omega-3s can be difficult to absorb because the body usually passes them before it can break them down. You could grind them, though. We also recommend eating chia seeds, hemp seeds, winter squash, beans, berries, or vegetables in the cabbage family. Some of the best vegan sources of long-chain fatty acids are plants from the sea, notably sea vegetables like seaweed and micro-algae. Sea vegetables contain less fat than most land vegetables and provide a significant source of meat-free omega-3s.
Essential Item #2: Probiotics
Your gut has plays a large role when it comes to your mental health. In fact, research suggests that 80-90% of serotonin—the neurotransmitter that helps to boost your mood in a happier direction—is manufactured within the stomach. Keeping your gut healthy is a fantastic step toward fighting depression, which is why some psychologists prescribe probiotics to their patients. While there are vegan probiotic supplements, there are many vegan sources of natural probiotics. Building good gut bacteria without meat is pretty easy when you regularly consume fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi.
Essential Item #3: Vitamin B-12
Vitamin B-12 helps to keep your energy levels up by supporting the transportation of oxygen throughout the whole body. Additionally, it activates several processes that keep the nervous system functioning within your brain and along your spinal cord, reducing your risk of depression. A study mentioned in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that nearly 30% of all women over the age of 65 were deficient in B-12, suggesting that a quarter of all cases of depression could be solved by Vitamin B-12 supplementation.
Unfortunately, B-12 is only available in animal products including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy, so the only way to get this essential ingredient is through fortified cereals or other non-dairy milk. When you opt to consume B-12 fortified foods, you are getting an essential nutrient without participating in the terrible, terrible world that is our animal farming industry.