Posted on April 7, 2014
In the summer of 2013, Humane League Labs carried out a large-scale survey of vegans, vegetarians, semi-vegetarians, and omnivores to learn the demographic and diet change patterns of each group. With over 3,000 respondents, including over 1,500 vegans and vegetarians, the survey was the largest of its kind ever carried out. The goal of the survey was to enable vegan advocacy organizations to create more effective materials and messaging by learning more about each group and its eating patterns.
A total of 57 questions were posed to respondents. Statistical analysis was performed by Amit Steinberg, Gary Shapiro, and Shelley Hurwitz from Statistics Without Borders, to which we would like to extend our sincerest appreciation.
Because the study is wide-ranging, the results are too extensive to summarize here. Instead, they have been compiled into a downloadable 57-page PDF report: Diet Change and Demographic Characteristics of Vegans, Vegetarians, Semi-Vegetarians, and Omnivores.
Implications For Vegan Advocates
The results have important implications for groups carrying out vegan advocacy and meat reduction efforts. While specific implications are not detailed in the report, they are fairly straightforward upon reading. Some implications include:
- Family concerns are a major (and frequently overlooked) barrier to going vegetarian, especially among students. Cost is also a significant concern. Vegan advocates should address these barriers in vegan advocacy materials.
- Concern for the welfare of animals on farms (the cruel conditions animals are raised in) is more likely to inspire people to reduce or eliminate animal product consumption than the fact that animals are killed, or that animals are intelligent, complex individuals. Vegan advocacy organizations should include all three issues in their advocacy materials, but should concentrate primarily on the cruel conditions in which farm animals are raised.
- Exposure to documentaries and books are two of the biggest catalysts inspiring people to reduce or eliminate animal product consumption. Vegan advocacy organizations should do more to promote and possibly help produce these materials.
- Nearly half of all meat reducers, vegetarians, and vegans are replacing part of their meat consumption with vegetables. While this may have some health benefits, it may also leave people lacking sufficient protein and calories, and therefore leave them feeling lethargic. Vegan advocacy organizations should be more explicit that the public should replace meat with items such as beans, lentils, grains, and vegetarian meats.
- Dairy is by far the hardest animal product for people to remove from their diet, followed by eggs and then fish. Vegan advocates may want to refrain from encouraging people to eliminate dairy from their diet until they have already removed other animal products (which are far easier to remove, and which cause more animal suffering).
|Document (with link)||Description|
|Full report||pdf document|
|Survey questionnaire||pdf document|
|Organized data set (all respondents)||Excel spreadsheet|
|Organized data set (non-activists)||Excel spreadsheet|
|Raw data (summary)||pdf document|
|Raw data (version 1)||Excel spreadsheet|
|Raw data (version 2)||Excel spreadsheet|
|Raw data (version 3)||Excel spreadsheet|
All data is free to use and share.