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Are Plant-Eaters Smarter and More Empathetic Than Meat-Eaters?

Food
Are Plant-Eaters Smarter and More Empathetic Than Meat-Eaters?
Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Matthew Ponsford

Human, monkey, pig.

Wrapped inside the giant magnetic coil of an magnetic imaging resonance (MRI) scanner, three silent animal videos flash up and then disappear in front of a test subject's eyes.


Each animal moves their mouth, contorting into shapes, which could be speaking, or not.

Five years ago, in the spring of 2013, a total of 60 subjects took turns to face functional MRI scans, a technique giving new insights in the workings of the mind, which feeds out images of brain slices showing when mental activity fills areas of the brain with oxygen or empties them out.

Twenty meat-eaters, 19 vegetarians and 21 vegans were put to the test.

Analyzing the results, the team led by Italian neuroscientist Massimo Filippi aimed to figure out if the three groups' brains responded differently to these videos. Filippi's previous study had tested whether people with different diets responded more or less strongly to animals that appeared to be in pain. But he wanted to find out something different, said Maria Rocca, another scientist on that team.

"Processing and understanding actions performed with the mouth by other individuals contribute to infer[ing] other people's emotional states and intentions, which is a hallmark of social interaction," explained Rocca. Roughly speaking, they wanted to know if meat-eaters' and vegetarians' brains were attempting to understand what the animals were trying to say.

Among their findings of the paper, called The 'Vegetarian Brain,' there were striking differences. On almost every area of the brain examined—parts associated with empathy, lip reading, comprehension—there were discernible variations between those who ate meat and those who didn't.

In certain brain areas associated with empathy, meat eaters' brains responded less to seeing humans make speech-like movement, echoing findings from other tests that showed increased activity in empathy circuits among people who do not eat meat for ethical reasons.

But figuring out where the human brain reacts was the easy part. The hard part: what—if anything—does it tell us about who we are?

Viral Gold

Compare the qualities of meat-eaters and vegetarians and, as far viral internet content goes, you've got gold. If it shows eating meat is better for your IQ, that's gold. If it shows vegetarians are happier—pure gold. If it shows "aggressive" vegans are harming the cause, that's gold.

Barely a month goes by without some new study making a claim about the link between meat consumption and human qualities. While there's little doubt left that a vegetarian diet would be better for the environment and (generally speaking) better for our health, there's less to say what it does to ourselves, or shows about the people we already are.

Trash science is a pound-a-penny, and there are few examples reaching the status that experts would see as providing real insight. Trace back any listicle on a vegan blog or YouTuber's rant about vegetarians' greater caring credentials, and you're likely to find just a handful of trustworthy tests. Again and again, this small collection of science papers resurfaces.

Vegetarians have higher IQ, according to a British study still being ground up and churned out as new 12 years after it was first reported by the BBC in 2006.

The study, which spanned over 20 years, found intelligent 10 year olds, measured in 1970, were more likely to become vegetarians by the time they turned 30.

Hailed as a breakthrough longitudinal study indicating that intelligence and vegetarianism are linked, it's unlikely that the scientific rigor of this study is what explains its longevity and interest. A less well-publicized U.S. study, released months later, flew in its face, finding no connection whatsoever.

"What makes information engaging is not the same as what makes information true," explained Michael Dahlstrom, a professor at Iowa State University and an expert in science communication.

Stories about food are rarely just about our mealtime preferences. Food intersects with identity for a lot of people, said Dahlstrom.

This may be one reason why it has become such a magnet for dubious science. An investigation by Buzzfeed News claimed Prof. Brian Wansink, who led Cornell's food psychology research unit, the Food and Brand Lab, found that it had played fast and loose with statistics, shuffling data about pizza-eating, snacking and vegetarian diets for kids to create good headlines.

Emails leaked to Buzzfeed showed Wansink wanted to "go virally big time."

Many of Wansink's papers extolled the virtues of healthy diets and were written to prove irresistible to online audiences. Wansink said he stands by his studies but is "re-analyzing" the data in a string of papers, after seven were retracted and 15 corrected, according to the Seattle Times.

The Austrian Study

This same effect has worked in reverse, with readers' antipathy to findings being used to cast doubt on sound studies. A 2006 cross-sectional survey by the Medical University Graz in Austria reported people with vegetarian diets suffered higher rates of cancer, chronic allergies and mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression.

Heralded as vindication for some omnivores and cause for cautious introspection by some vegetarians, it has since then taken its own place in the online world of dietary mudslinging. Its plant-eating detractors slammed its credibility with the same force they boost pro-vegetarian content.

Known as "The Austrian Study," it has been lambasted by animal rights blogs as "quackery." That's overstating things, yet—as its authors acknowledge—the study is partial, incomplete and open to misinterpretation.

The British National Health Service intervened with its own analysis, highlighting the survey's limitations—allowing people to self-report their diets, only including Austrians, saying nothing of cause and effect—and refuting newspaper reports that vegetarian diets caused disease.

Why do some food-based science stories elicit such a strong response?

"Being a vegetarian or being a meat-eater means more than just the food I eat, or the health effects or the price I pay—it means what kind of person I am," said Dahlstrom. "Any story that affirms identities around these topics will be very engaging to the people who hold them. Science therefore gets pulled into these identify affirming stories even though the truth behind them is irrelevant."

Empathy

One claim stands out head-and-shoulders above the rest for plausibility: that vegetarians are more empathetic and thoughtful than their meat-eating counterparts.

This tends to get believed right out of the gate, at least by those who refuse to eat meat on moral grounds. It makes sense of the causal link—explaining why they are vegetarians in the first place.

The monkey, pig, human experiment was of this sort, but it was Filippi's earlier study that went viral.

His test showing by functional MRI that vegetarians and vegans respond differently to images of animal pain than meat-eaters is among the most oft-repeated in online debates.

This study "provided the first scientific evidence of the dietary habits influences on brain circuits, where dietary choice was based on ethical reasons," said Rocca.

For scientists who really care if vegetarians' brains work differently from those of meat-eaters, new tools are getting closer to insights that circumvent the issues they'd had using more basic tools like the ones used in the Austrian survey. But in 2010, as functional MRI was giving neurological insights, something else was taking off: Social networks were becoming our primary forum for debate.

"Science is usually seeking truth while general audiences are usually seeking engagement, and this creates a mismatch," said Dahlstrom.

Dahlstrom says good science communicators bridge this gap by presenting truth in ways that earn engagement, but other communicators use engaging tactics to persuade untruth. "General audiences can use social media to share what they find the most engaging, regardless of truth," he added.

Many of us non-scientists now get most of our science news through social media, so some understanding of where that news comes from is vital.

If you've ever clicked "Tweet" or "Share" on an article you've not really read, you're not alone. A study of links shared on social media found 59 percent of them have never actually been clicked. In other words, most people appear to retweet news without ever reading it, and this the overwhelming norm for social media. Numerous studies have found that there is almost no correlation between what people share and what they actually read.

In a 1,700-word feature like the one you're reading right now, perhaps less than 5 percent of readers will get to this point. If you have, congratulations—it's a sign you're more of a "truth-seeker," to use Dahlstrom's phrase, about your diet than most.

Which is why I've kept it to down here to say: The pig-monkey-human test is one example of the kind of study that could show us that dietary choices are linked to brain function. But it's also the kind that has proved to vanish online, with no easy social media post.

Still, there remains the unanswered question of what exactly is more revealing about positive personal traits, like empathy: a functional MRI scan showing more activity in empathy-related brain areas in response to a pig in pain, or your broadcasting the findings of a scientific study you've barely looked at because you think it makes you look good?

After all, it's worth asking what makes people share the findings of studies they haven't even read, which is key in itself.

"For the group that does not have this need [that scientists have] to learn, what the study really suggests is irrelevant—what matters is how the story can benefit the individual to maintain or strengthen personal and social needs that they find more important than the truth of the topic at hand."

Dahlstrom is sympathetic to people sharing on social media, saying regular people don't have the same responsibility as journalists or professors, but also suggests we could become better seekers of the truth about diet and morality.

"It is important to note there is no distinct group between truth-seekers and not," he added. "We all have topics that serve us individually in some way and we become truth-seekers for that topic. There are a much larger number of topics that have weaker connections to how we live our lives, and we do not devote the time to become truth-seekers for those topics. With only so many resources to invest in truth—financial, mental and social—we all have to prioritize."

Matthew Ponsford is a London-based journalist and producer who has written for Thomson Reuters, CNN International, Financial Times, the Guardian, the Independent and Vice. Follow him on Twitter @mjponsford.

This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

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Trending

Do you feel embarrassed due to the foul odor coming from your mouth? Or your oral hygiene isn't as good as before, and you are suffering from gingivitis (inflammation of gums)?

Well, these oral problems are skyrocketing, and even young people are suffering from oral issues that result in a lack of confidence.

It's common to change your toothpaste by seeing the TV commercials that claim to free you from bad breath or sensitive teeth, but these products don't always work.

Fighting oral issues isn't that easy, even if you religiously follow what your primary school teacher has taught, to "Brush two times a day!"

Well, there is a much-hyped supplement in the market that claims to help you fight all of these oral issues: The Steel Bite Pro.

Steel Bite Pro is an oral supplement that claims to cure bad breath and other such oral issues like sensitivity and gum problems.

But does the supplement really work, or is it just like the useless toothpaste that you tried before? Let's find out in this review.

Who Should Use Steel Bite Pro?

The best part about Steel Bite Pro is that anyone can use the supplement to get rid of oral issues. The supplement contains natural ingredients such as turmeric, zinc, alfalfa, jujube seeds, and much more, so there are no chemicals at all.

No matter whether you are 20 or 60, you can use this supplement to overcome oral issues and get the confidence back that you are missing due to bad odor and sensitive teeth.

Steel Bite Pro Review: Overview of the Supplement

Steel Bite Pro is an all-natural supplement that contains a mix of natural supplements to rebuild your gums and teeth.

The supplement contains 29 different foods that help you reduce the gum pain and other dental problems you have been facing for years.

More than 55,000 people have used Steel Bite Pro till now, and the results of the supplement are pretty impressive. Furthermore, the supplement is prepared in an FDA-approved facility in the USA.

It is available in the form of pills that you can consume anytime, so using the supplement is incredibly convenient. There are numerous benefits of using the Steel Bite Pro as it solves a plethora of dental problems.

Click here to Get the Best Deal on Steel Bite Pro from the Official Website.

Pros and Cons: Steel Bite Pro

To understand the supplement better, it is essential to know about its pros and cons.

Pros

Convenient to Use

The dietary supplement is convenient to use as it comes in the form of pills. You can take the pill anytime, even when you are in your office or somewhere else. Now there is no need to use multiple kinds of toothpaste and splurge money by visiting a dentist.

All-Natural Ingredients

All the ingredients present inside the supplement are natural, and there are no chemicals that can harm your teeth or gums.

Affordable

When you compare the cost of 1 bottle with the cost of a special toothpaste with the fee that your dentist charges, Steel Bite Pro will seem much more affordable. The supplement is available in multiple packages, so you will find it affordable to use.

No Side Effects at All

There are no side effects to using Steel Bite Pro, so you can rest assured that you won't face any headaches or other issues while curing the oral issues. The reason why Steel Bite Pro has no side effects is due to its natural ingredients.

Designed by Experts

The supplement is designed by experts that have been in the industry for years.

No Additional Medicines Are Required

When you are using Steel Bite Pro, you can avoid using other medicines that you have been taking to cure oral issues.

Attacks on the Pain

There are several ingredients present in Steel Bite Pro that attack tooth and gum pain so that you get some instant relief with the supplement.

Comes With a Money Back Guarantee

The supplement comes with a 60-day money back guarantee, so you can claim a full refund if you find the supplement isn't working for you, or if it isn't doing what the manufacturer has promised.

Cons

You Can Purchase It From the Official Site Only

The supplement is only available for purchase from the Official Website. Sometimes the supplement gets out of stock, so you have to wait for it to get back in stock.

A Single Bottle Costs More

If you buy a single bottle of the supplement, it'll cost you more than other packages with multiple bottles.

Ingredients in Steel Bite Pro

All the ingredients present in Steel Bite Pro are natural and have proven benefits for humans. Here is a list of supplements explained in detail and how they can benefit you if you start using Steel Bite Pro.

Turmeric

As per a study, there are innumerable benefits of using turmeric on your teeth. The natural herb has antimicrobial properties that help remove the plaque effectively from the teeth, exterminate bacteria and help cure sensitivity.

Moreover, turmeric is good for fighting oral inflammation issues. When applied on teeth, the ingredient gives instant relief from pain and is effective in curing mouth ulcers as well.

Berberine

Berberine is a natural herb with proven antioxidant power to help you get rid of microorganisms developing inside the mouth. Furthermore, the ingredient has anti-inflammatory properties and is good for curing oral issues caused due to viruses and bacteria.

Yarrow

It is another natural ingredient that is used in a range of health supplements due to its healing power. The ingredient naturally heals the gums and the damage caused to the teeth by bacteria and microorganisms.

As per a study, it helps reduce the infection, oral pain, and cures other dental issues.

Milk Thistle

Your liver has a significant impact on your oral health, and that's where milk thistle works. The natural ingredient eliminates toxins from the liver and detoxifies your mouth as well.

Here is a study that proves how milk thistle is beneficial in detoxifying the liver.

Alfalfa

The decaying of teeth is the initial phase of damage caused by bacteria thriving inside your mouth. Alfalfa works by reducing tooth sensitivity drastically and repairs the tooth decay caused by the bacteria.

It even stops the bacteria from growing further so you can expect good oral health.

Ginger

A lot of natural supplements for teeth contain ginger because of its benefits on the teeth and the stomach. This ingredient present in the Steel Bite Pro reduces nausea and inflammation.

As per this study, there are umpteen other benefits of ginger as well, such as it maintains the pH inside your mouth.

Jujube Seeds

Jujube seeds are good for boosting the immunity. Also, the ingredient has excellent antioxidant properties and is rich in Vitamin C, which is beneficial for the teeth and overall oral health.

Dandelion

Dandelion is a natural ingredient extracted from herbs. The ingredient is rich in minerals and has immense benefits such as fighting the bacteria and preventing the infections occurring inside your mouth.

Zinc

Zinc is essential for teeth, and that is why many toothpaste brands advertise that their product contains a good amount of zinc. Further, zinc is a natural immunity booster and fights against bacteria to prevent gum disease and cavities.

Moreover, zinc repairs the enamel on your teeth that's damaged due to toothpaste or any other reasons. Here is a study that shows the benefits of zinc for your teeth and mouth.

Chicory Root

Chicory root acts as a catalyst and increases the effectiveness of other ingredients. The reason why you get instant relief from pain after using Steel Bite Pro is due to the presence of chicory root in the pills.

Celery Seeds

Bacteria result in bad odor and can create cavities in the teeth. Furthermore, some bacteria result in tooth decay and harm the gums. The celery seeds fight these bacteria and prevent further growth.

Yellow Dock

To stay healthy, the teeth need to absorb the minerals present in the saliva. When your teeth are damaged for any reason, they stop absorbing the minerals, and the damage continues further.

Yellow dock helps the teeth to absorb the minerals while reducing the inflammation. Various studies have proven the efficacy of yellow dock for teeth and gums, and it is a natural and effective ingredient to keep the teeth healthy.

Raspberry, Chanca Piedra, and Artichoke

These three natural ingredients have similar properties and contribute a lot to the effectiveness of Steel Bite Pro. The ingredients have good amounts of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin K, Vitamin C, magnesium, phosphorus, and folate.

The purifying agents will remove bacteria and other impurities from the mouth so that the other ingredients work well by repairing the teeth and gums.

Feverfew

The worst thing about oral issues is the pain that you have to go through. Steel Bite Pro claims to help with the pain as it contains feverfew, which is a natural pain reliever. The ingredient suppresses oral and dental pain so you will feel better instantly.

As per a study, there are some other benefits of feverfew, because it is a medicinal plant that suppresses other pains as well. Also, there are no side effects of feverfew at all.

Burdock Root

The root of the burdock plant comes loaded with antioxidants that improve the gum health and the overall health of your mouth.

The best thing about Steel Bite Pro is that the ingredients are present in exact quantities, so you can rest assured that there will be no side effects. Every ingredient is tested in the labs for its efficiency, and that's what makes the Steel Bite Pro a considerable option if you want to improve your oral and dental health.

Click here to See the full list of ingredients in Steel Bite Pro on the official website.

How Does Steel Bite Pro Work?

It is crucial to understand how the supplement works so that you can decide whether to invest in it or not. Below is a step by step process that will help you understand Steel Bite Pro on the go.

Step 1:

When you start consuming the supplement, the pills break down in your mouth. The ingredients then mix with saliva to perform their particular actions.

Step 2:

The ingredients fight the bacteria and heal issues such as wounds while reducing the inflammation caused in the mouth.

Step 3:

The supplement cements the root of the teeth so that there are no further oral and dental issues. Also, it heals the gums and repairs the enamel to provide you relief from sensitivity.

The minerals present in these ingredients strengthen the crown area of the teeth while repairing the cracks so that the damage can be stopped.

Step 4:

The supplement also has some impact on your overall health as the ingredients detoxify the liver by flushing away the toxins.

Step 5:

Consuming the supplement regularly will help you maintain the shield on the teeth that fights against bacteria and microorganisms. Also, it improves the condition of the teeth and curtails bad breath.

The working of Steel Bite Pro is really simple, as there are no complex ingredients present in the supplement. It is easy to use, and all you have to do is consume the pill regularly to keep your oral and dental health up to the mark.

Benefits of Steel Bite Pro

There are many benefits of using Steel Bite Pro since it is an all-natural supplement that has no side effects at all. Here are some benefits you need to consider before buying it.

Prevents Bleeding and Improves Gum Health

The reason why your teeth bleed is due to the loose gums. The space between the tooth and the gum results in bleeding, and that's where Steel Bite Pro helps. The supplement tightens the gums so that there is no bleeding at all.

Whitens the Teeth Naturally

The ingredients present in the supplement, such as zinc and milk thistle, whiten the teeth naturally. There is no need to invest in expensive teeth whitening toothpaste if you are using Steel Bite Pro.

Reduces Bad Breath

The supplement contains ingredients that improve the overall health of the teeth, and it automatically reduces bad breath.

Helps Cure Tooth Pain

Steel Bite Pro has feverfew, which is a natural pain reliever ingredient. The ingredient cures tooth and gum pain and can have instant results after you consume Steel Bite Pro.

Click here to Learn more about the Benefits of Steel Bite Pro on the official website.

Side Effects of Using Steel Bite Pro

You may find it surprising, but Steel Bite Pro has no side effects at all as the supplement contains natural ingredients and has exact quantities so that there are no ill effects on your health. If you keep using the supplement as prescribed, then it can have some excellent results.

Who Should Refrain from Steel Bite Pro?

Steel Bite Pro is an all-natural dietary supplement to improve your dental and oral health.

Anyone can use the supplement, including pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. There are no harms of using the supplement.

However, it would be great to consult a doctor before using the supplement to find out if you are allergic to any of the ingredients.

Dosage and Tips to Start

To get the most from Steel Bite Pro, you should consume two pills with water every day. Take both capsules together anytime that's convenient for you.

To get the best results, follow a brushing regime, and massage your teeth regularly with some good-quality oil to increase the effectiveness of the pills.

Where to Buy Steel Bite Pro, and Guarantees?

You can only buy Steel Bite Pro from the Official Site, as the supplement is not available anywhere else for purchase. You can choose from three available options:

●1 bottle (60 pills) $69

●Three bottles (180 pills) $117

●Six bottles (360 pills) $294 (Best Deal)

You get a 60-day money back guarantee with all the packages, no matter if you go for one bottle or six bottles. You are eligible to claim the full refund within 60 days of the date of purchase.

Steel Bite Pro Reviews: Closing Thoughts

After this definitive review, it will be easier for you to find out whether you should use Steel Bite Pro or not. The supplement contains a mix of 29 natural ingredients that have proven benefits and are tested in labs.

It is essential to get rid of oral and dental issues before things get out of control and you have no option left despite visiting a dentist.

Getting a good quality supplement is essential, so Steel Bite Pro is a viable option if you need a supplement with no side effects.

Anyone can use this supplement irrespective of age, sex, and medical conditions. Lastly, buy the supplement only from the official site so that you can easily claim the refund if required.

Click here to Get the best deal on Steel Bite Pro from the official website.

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