Vegetarians are usually confident about the health benefits of their meat-free diets.

But new research suggests vegetarian diets are associated with poorer health and quality of life.

The study also showed that vegetarians visit their doctors more than meat eaters and that they are more prone to allergies, cancer and mental health problems.
© Medical University of GrazVegetarians are less healthy and have a lower quality of life than meat-eaters, researchers claim. Table shows the chances of suffering from different illnesses depending on diet
It showed that non-meat eaters have double the risk of allergies and a 50 per cent increased risk of heart attacks and cancer, CBS Atlanta reports.

They are also significantly more likely to experience depression and anxiety.

However, the research from the Medical University of Graz, Austria, did reveal that vegetarians tend to be healthier in some ways.

It showed that they are usually more active and that they consume less alcohol.

They are also less likely to smoke and tend to have lower BMIs.

The research also revealed that people of high socioeconomic status are more likely to be vegetarian.

The research contradicts previous studies that have suggested red meat is linked to a range of health problems, including bowel cancer.

As a result, the researchers say more studies are needed to confirm their findings.

The researchers say: 'Our study has shown that Austrian adults who consume a vegetarian diet are less healthy (in terms of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), have a lower quality of life, and also require more medical treatment.

'Therefore, a continued strong public health programme for Austria is required in order to reduce the health risk due to nutritional factors.'