26/03/2012 16:43 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Does Red Meat Make You Happy?

According to a new study, women who regularly eat red meat are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than those who eat it rarely or not at all.

lady-gaga-meat-dress Lady Gaga in her meat dress. Photo: Getty Images

As someone who was vegetarian for the best part of 18 years, I read the results of the survey with interest. Not least because I've discovered that there's not much that a fantastic burger, a juicy steak or couple of slices of roast lamb smothered with mint sauce can't fix.

Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy vegetarian food. And I don't eat red meat more than two-or-three times per week.

But after nearly two decades of veggie breakfasts, quorn bolognese and lacklustre vegetarian menus, biting into a bacon sarnie never fails to put a smile on my face.

Of course, I'm well aware of the recent research which links a diet high in red meat to a shorter life expectancy. US researchers claim that eating red meat significantly raises the risk of death from heart disease or cancer, particularly if you tuck into processed meat such as bacon or sausages.

This, of course, is terrible news for those of us who have only recently rediscovered the joy of a sausage sandwich (with brown sauce, never red).

But I'm not going to let the scare stories put me off.

I don't need medical experts to tell me that it's unwise to have bacon for breakfast, a burger for lunch and lamb chops for dinner - I think we've all got the message by now that moderation is the key to a balanced diet.

And before we're all terrified into banishing burgers for ever more, it's worth remembering that health experts and nutritionists say that it's still safe to eat meat, provided that we choose good quality, lean cuts and grill it instead of, say, covering it in batter, deep-frying it and serving it with chips.

And it's not all doom and gloom: researchers at Deakin University in Australia have come to the conclusion that eating red meat can have such a positive effect on mental health that it can halve the risk of suffering from depression.

Professor Felice Jacka, who led the study of 1,000 Australian women, said: "We had originally thought that red meat might not be good for mental health but it turns out that it actually may be quite important.

"When we looked at women consuming less than the recommended amount of red meat in our study, we found that they were twice as likely to have a diagnosed depressive or anxiety disorder as those consuming the recommended amount."

Speaking from personal experience, I can totally understand why meat eaters are less stressed and anxious.

They no longer have to worry that cabin crew will tell them, on a long-haul flight, that they have run out of vegetarian meals, but they have plenty of bread rolls, peanuts and orange segments (happened to me).

As a carnivore, I don't feel my heart sink as I peruse a restaurant menu: I can choose from a variety of interesting and elaborate dishes now that I'm no longer restricted to the overpriced goat's cheese and pesto tart (again) or the vegetarian lasagne (yawn).

And meat eaters don't have to worry about offending friends or family who have forgotten that they are vegetarian, or feel guilty about people preparing a separate meal when they go round to eat.

As if that's not enough, they also don't have to suffer horrible hangovers because nothing gets you back on your feet like a Full English.

Nope, life as a meat eater is definitely more straightforward and, as a result, I think it's fair to say that it's more fun.

And yes, that makes me very happy. So happy that I might even have a burger to celebrate.

By: Ceri Roberts