Study of Current and Former Vegetarians and Vegans: Qualitative Findings
Many animal advocates spend a considerable amount of time thinking of ways that we can win people over and get them to try veg diets. We want to understand what motivates people to change their actions to make more compassionate choices that help animals. However, we don’t seem to spend as much time trying to understand why people who are already “on board” with being veg might lapse. The latest findings from Faunalytics’ Study of Current and Former Vegetarians and Vegans examines the reasons why former vegetarians have lapsed, and discovers what might help them return to a veg diet. The results are food for thought for all veg advocates.
To research these aspects, a representative sample of more than 1,000 former vegetarians/vegans in the U.S. were asked for the primary reason that they abandoned their diet. Overall, the study finds that there is not one single reason that towers above the others – the process of moving away from a veg diet appears to be multifaceted and complex, with patterns emerging in the areas of food/taste, health, social, convenience, price, and motivations. The same is true for responses relating to a possible return to a vegetarian or vegan diet. These important, first-hand messages from former vegetarians/vegans enables advocates to take steps to help support those likely to lapse, as well as assist more people to return to the diet.
Many people indicated several reasons for abandoning the diet, and even among those who provided single responses, there was a tremendous variety of answers. This means that advocates should try to understand how various approaches can be helpful even in individual circumstances.
We hear a lot about how vegetarianism and veganism is a “trending” topic, and if we want to make sure that it is a trend that sticks, studies like this one are important to support us in our advocacy efforts. As advocates, we need to see past our own feelings about what issues are the most effective in veg advocacy in order to support individuals. The people who have been veg before can become veg again, and this study reveals numerous avenues to approach this task. Improved veg mentoring, wider food choices, and better information about health are all practical, effective, and research-informed actions that can help our veg friends stick to an ethical diet. Limiting the obstacles that people face when trying to maintain a veg diet will help our movement become stronger. And, given the numbers of people lapsing, even small successes in this area can have a large impact on veg and animal issues.