Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Psychology (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Virginia Wickline


The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations have calculated the effects of animal agriculture and factory farming to be responsible for generating 14.5-16.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions as well as using 70% of all agricultural land to sustain itself. Plant-based diets such as veganism and vegetarianism have been on the rise as many seek to find diets that mitigate the animal suffering and environmental impact for which animal agriculture is responsible. With the rise of these diets, it is important to understand the cognitive effects adhering to such diets can have on the body and mind, as well as potential risks. Previous studies have shown that adherence to a more plant-based diet can mitigate cholesterol risks, reduce risk for developing dementia related diseases, and increase cognitive performance. The current study aimed to see if there were indeed relationships between the degree of plant-based diet and related health and cognitive outcomes. An online hybrid cross sectional study was conducted with Georgia Southern undergraduate students (N = 224) through Qualtrics and PsyToolkit. The participants took part in the Stroop Task as well as the Deary- Liewald Simple Reaction Time Task to gain insight into their processing speeds as well as their reaction time speeds, respectively. The participants then answered questions related to their diet as well as a cognitive flexibility self-report measure and several health measures. Results found that reports of high cholesterol were significantly greater for those with a lower degree of plant-based diet. Results for other predictions were largely inconclusive, therefore not supporting the hypotheses and would need further study and experimentation to identify causality.