A recently published study that looked at public opinion on plant-based diets has found widespread support for the ethics and environmental benefits of veganism and vegetarianism among meat eaters, but finds that the barriers are practical matters of taste, price, and convenience.
Analysis published in the journal Sustainability from University of Bath Psychology PhD student Chris Bryant suggests that 73% of meat eaters surveyed considered veganism to be ‘ethical’, 70% said it was good for the environment and half (50%) considered it healthy. 60% thought veganism was ‘acceptable’.
By contrast, over 80% of respondents thought veganism was not easy, 77% thought it ‘inconvenient’ and over 60% thought it was not enjoyable. Attitudes from respondents towards vegetarianism were significantly more positive on almost all counts.
The study, which involved 1,000 men and women with an average age of 34, was conducted in September 2018. Participants were recruited online through the survey platform Prolific. The work was partially funded by the charity Viva! as part of Chris Bryant’s ESRC PhD. His research is focused on shifting preferences away from animal consumption in view of climate change and reducing animal suffering.
Chris Bryant from Bath’s Department of Psychology explains: “At a time of year when many people are considering switching to plant-based diets with ‘Veganuary’, this study shows that most people already agree with the ethics of veganism and are aware of the benefits of vegan diets to the environment.
“That many people agree with the principles of veganism is one thing, but in terms of changing behaviours we need to acknowledge that for many it has been seen as too expensive, inconvenient and a sacrifice in terms of taste.
“Interestingly, in the time since this study was conducted, these things have all changed substantially. Supermarkets, restaurants, and even fast food outlets have developed numerous high quality and affordable vegan options. Having direct replacements for the foods people know and like makes it easier for everybody to consume fewer animal products. If we are to reduce animal product consumption in the UK and around the world, the development of high quality affordable alternatives to animal products is key.”
January marks the start of Veganuary, the annual campaign which last year inspired over a million people to try vegan diets for January and beyond.
Earlier this month, the fast food bakery Greggs launched a vegan steak bake. This follows the introduction of Subway’s vegan Meatball Marinara sub and even a vegan KFC burger.
We Can’t Keep Meating Like This: Attitudes towards Vegetarian and Vegan Diets in the United Kingdom. Christopher J. Bryant. Sustainability 2019, 11(23), 6844; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11236844.
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