14 July 2011

Survey reveals why people become vegan or vegetarian

It seems that one of the most common questions omnivores have for vegans and vegetarians is: "Why? Why don't you consume animal products?"

A study presented at the 2011 Joint Animal Meeting (JAM) conference held by the American Dairy Science Association and the American Society of Animal Science aimed to answer that question (keep in mind: it was from the perspective of an agricultural context). Scientists from Texas A&M and Oregon State University surveyed self-identified vegans from 14 US states who attended vegan/vegetarian trade shows and festivals in 2009 and 2010.

The survey participants, who were mostly females over 20 years of age with a college or university education and no farm background, were asked to rank the importance of the following factors in their decision to lead a vegan lifestyle:

1) I am opposed to killing animals
2) I am concerned with health issues
3) I am concerned about residues of chemical feed additives and hormones
4) I am opposed to intensive confinement systems
5) I am concerned with food safety issues
6) I believe that animal production competes with humans for grains
7) I am concerned about environmental issues
8) It is "cool" and trendy to be a vegetarian
9) I became a vegetarian because of peer pressure

Data from the 121 survey participants in 2009 showed an association between education level and factor 5; data from the 27 participants in 2010 showed that dietary habits influenced responses to factors 1, 7, 8, and 9 and education and farm background influenced responses to factors 4 and 6, respectively. The study concludes that "no single issue seems to be the dominant explanation for the selection of a nonanimal product lifestyle."

So please, keep asking us: "Why?" We'll all have a different answer for you!

What would you answer? Given the above nine options, which factors are most important to your decision to be a vegan/vegetarian?

Meghan Joyce | Facebook
Meghan has been a vegan for a few months and blogs about it at MeghanTheVeghan.blogspot.com. She's a PhD student in musicology, an opera singer, and a yoga enthusiast who loves eating and loves the world.

Photo credit:cc:.flickr.com/photos/cefeida