Strict health-oriented eating patterns (orthorexic eating behaviours) and their connection with a vegetarian and vegan diet

Eat Weight Disord. 2019 Jun;24(3):441-452. doi: 10.1007/s40519-018-0563-5. Epub 2018 Aug 29.


Purpose: Although research on vegetarianism is becoming more prevalent, to date, only a few research has been conducted on relationship between vegetarian diet and orthorexia nervosa (ON). The objective of the present study was to examine the orthorexic dietary patterns and eating behaviours among individuals following a vegetarian, vegan, and meat diet. We examined the moderating role of ethical and health reasons for following a meat-free diet on the relation between vegan versus vegetarian diet and eating behaviours and ON. The study aimed to determine the predictors of ON in individuals with differential food preferences.

Methods: Seventy-nine individuals following a meat-free diet and 41 individuals following an omnivore diet completed the EHQ and the TFEQ-R18.

Results: Our findings indicated that individuals following a vegan diet showed a higher level of knowledge of healthy eating than those who followed a vegetarian diet and those who followed an omnivore diet. Participants maintaining a vegan diet for health reasons were more likely to have greater knowledge about healthy eating. Cognitive restraint was a predictor of ON among a sample following a meat-free diet.

Conclusions: Our results could contribute to identify potential risk factors for strict health-oriented eating patterns and to gain a better insight into ON.

Level of evidence: Level V, descriptive study.

Keywords: Eating behaviours; Orthorexia nervosa; Vegan diet; Vegetarian diet.

MeSH terms

  • Diet, Healthy / psychology*
  • Diet, Vegan*
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / psychology
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegans / psychology
  • Vegetarians / psychology