First-Ever Study Of Veganism And Animal Welfare In Palestine
In November 2015, Faunalytics chose the Palestinian Animal League (PAL) as one of several organizations to receive pro bono support. We teamed up to undertake the first ever study of veganism and vegetarianism in the Palestinian territories. Prior to our research, there was almost no information on this topic. That made it hard for PAL to effectively promote veganism and vegan foods.
This project arose from PAL’s desire to conduct targeted outreach to promote veganism. The organization’s humane education and public awareness efforts have been hindered by the widespread misperception that a vegan diet is a deficient source of nutrients. Many in Palestine seem unable to find vegan substitutes. Most local markets are lacking in vegan products.
Additionally, PAL’s initial discussions with local vendors indicated that many of them believe that there is no need (or demand) for vegan products in Palestine. PAL believes that these misconceptions create significant barriers for their advocacy.
The purpose of the research was, therefore, to better understand current opinions and knowledge about vegan products. This information would enable PAL to adjust its humane education, public awareness campaigns, and private sector outreach to be more effective.
Our study sought to accomplish three things:
- Evaluate the current availability of vegan food in Palestine through a market survey of grocers and food providers.
- Estimate the demand for vegan food, especially among people ages 14-25, through a community survey of Palestinians.
- Understand how perceptions of what is halal (permitted under Islamic law) affects attitudes toward vegan food.
The research is being conducted in multiple phases, with Faunalytics providing guidance and input primarily for the youth survey. Those survey results confirmed PAL’s concern regarding the skepticism about vegan food. However, they also showed encouraging results on attitudes towards animals. Here are a few highlights:
- Just over half of Palestinian youths (ages 14-25, sourced primarily from three universities) have heard of veganism; 49% have not.
- 92% of Palestinian youths say they’ve been taught kindness and compassion toward animals, including both in school and in the home.
- There is widespread agreement that animals feel pain and are capable of fear and happiness.
- Most Palestinian youths (85%) believe that mercy toward animals is important in Palestinian society.
- There is strong agreement with the notions that caring for animals is a religious duty and that religion places importance on animal welfare.
- There are concerns about vegan food providing sufficient nutrients – only 46% think this is the case, and only 37% think meat alternatives can replace those nutrients.
Visit the PAL website to see their recap of the results and get access to the full report. Note that the original study and reporting was conducted in Arabic and the English translation is a rough one. If you have questions, please contact us or reach out to PAL directly.
The study results will inform and support PAL’s humane education and public awareness campaigning efforts aimed at promoting animal protection in general and veganism, specifically. The knowledge acquired will help refine the approaches and messaging that PAL’s trained volunteers (25+ advocacy groups, totaling 300+ youth advocates) use when leading humane education efforts in over 85 high schools and three universities throughout the West Bank.
PAL will also use the new information to shape targeted public awareness campaigns, including mass media (i.e., newspapers and radio) and social media (e.g., Facebook). Private sector outreach will benefit from having the data to demonstrate the demand for vegan products. PAL hopes that documented interest in vegan foods will encourage more vendors to offer alternatives, such as soy products.
Finally, PAL anticipates that other animal protection groups in the region will use and build on the study and the resulting insights. Advocates in other predominantly Muslim areas are raising similar questions about the demand and supply for vegan foods.
Thanks to the dedication of the PAL team and their researchers, advocates now have some insight into views about veganism. Faunalytics provided overall guidance for the project and covered the research costs; PAL’s volunteer and paid researchers conducted the study and analyzed the results.