Why do people choose vegetarianism?

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A new survey shows why different people chose to shift to vegetarianism.

Researchers know that people are motivated to be vegetarian for different reasons—the most common in Western cultures include health, the environment, and animal rights. But how compelling are these different factors for non-vegetarians?

Researchers surveyed 8,000 people of various ages and ethnicities, in two languages, in the United States and Holland, to determine why non-vegetarians decide to become vegetarian.

The results showed that the main motivation for non-vegetarians to consider being vegetarian is health, with environmental and animal rights motives being less common. However, the environment or animal rights motivated those people most committed to a vegetarian diet.

“The most common reason people say they would consider being vegetarian has to do with health… However, people driven primarily by health motives may be least likely to respond to vegetarian advocacy, in general,” says coauthor Christopher J. Hopwood, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis.

This creates a challenge for advocacy movements, he says: What motive should they target?

One possible solution would be to target different motives in different groups of people. The researchers found that health motives associated with conventionality and masculinity, while people who cite environmental or animal rights motives tend to be curious, open to experience, likely to volunteer, and interested in the arts.

Based on these results, advocacy groups could target certain kinds of people—maybe advertise health benefits at a gym or church service, but environmental or animal rights perspectives at a museum or concert, Hopwood says.

The paper appears in PLOS ONE. Funding came from Animal Charity Evaluators.

Source: UC Davis