Vegan Burger

Why Are People Going Vegan?

On this Fourth of July holiday, a growing number of Americans are going vegan. Meatless burgers have become commonplace and restaurants have gotten the message that they need options for guests who are seeking vegan options. The number of people who actually follow a vegan diet remains pretty small, but their influence is growing through public figures like Bill Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carrie Underwood, and Natalie Portman who are at least part-time vegans.

The real question is, why? Why has interest in vegan foods grown to surpass even vegetarian cuisine?

Explicit Motives for a Vegan DietA new study in Appetite sheds some light on the clusters of motivations that drive people to follow a vegan diet. Through open-ended questions with a sample of 329 people in Germany following a vegan diet, they found five distinct groups of people driven by different reasons for going vegan.

The reasons fell into three domains: animal welfare, personal well-being, and environmental concerns. Different groups of consumers were driven by different mixtures of these motives, but only 11% were not driven, at least partly, by the dominant motive – animal welfare.

A little less than half (47%) were driven by environmental concerns. The authors note, as others have, that the influence of veganism on food and agriculture will continue to grow. The environmental impact of animal agriculture alone has driven China to aim for cutting meat consumption in half.

The number of vegans may remain small, but their influence is becoming large. Consumer dynamics will play a key role in finding a sustainable path forward.

Click here for the study and here for more on vegan foods going mainstream.

Vegan Burger, photograph © Sharada Prasad CS / flickr

Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.


July 4, 2016