Motivations And Barriers To Becoming Vegetarian
This research study in support of a graduate thesis examines the motivations for and barriers to men becoming vegetarian, as identified based on personal interviews with 10 vegetarian males in the Vancouver, B.C. area.
The motivations mentioned by participants during the interviews were similar to those revealed in literature searches on vegetarians conducted by Faunalytics, and Janda and Trocchia. These motivations included animal welfare, health benefits, environmental concerns, and repulsion with meat. Other influences identified include having a vegetarian partner, and the general cost-benefit of reducing meat consumption.
With respect to animal welfare, slaughterhouse books and documentaries relating to meat production or animal rights were the primary motivators in interviewees’ decisions to become vegetarian.
The most common barriers to vegetarianism were health concerns and the negative impressions of vegetarianism. Men and women also face different pressures related to body image; women idealize losing weight, while men worry about losing too much weight. Because vegetarianism is associated with a thin body image type, this can be a significant a barrier for men.
Additionally, some men believe that vegetarians have acted “militantly” toward non-vegetarians in the past, and this was a potential deterrent to considering vegetarianism. However, some also mentioned PETA as an important influence over their decision to become vegetarian.
Interviewees reported receiving positive feedback on their choice to become vegetarian from their family and friends, including friendly curiosity as a common reaction. In addition, many felt that becoming vegetarian opened them up to their own emotions and made them feel more compassionate in general.
Lastly, it was found that several interviewees felt that it was important for vegetarian advocates to try to reach young men with a message encouraging them to be compassionate to all living things, before they grow up and strive to become the stereotypical “macho male.”