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McDonald's "Empirical Look at Becoming Vegan"

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McDonald (2000) offers insights from in-depth interviews with twelve long-term vegans. I have done similar qualitative work with two focus groups, and I have done a quantitative survey with 385 respondents recruited through vegetarian channels (MacNair, 1998). Several points McDonald made can be confirmed or expanded upon from these studies, and there are other important considerations in the investigation of becoming vegetarian or vegan. As McDonald says, the current literature on becoming vegetarian or vegan is scant. One addition is recent figures on the percentage of the American population that is vegetarian. A Zogby Poll (Vegetarian Resource Group, 2000) shows that 2.5% of Americans - the vegetarians - never eat meat, poultry, or fish. Nine of the 968 polled - the vegans - also eat no dairy, eggs, or animal products. My findings were similar to McDonald's on the importance of reading vegan materials to maintain a vegan lifestyle. Similarly, my focus groups' remarks echoed the travails of persuading others and finding social support. The interplay of emotion and logic is also echoed, with some people starting with one and including the other. The survey (MacNair, 1998) suggested that those who became vegetarian because of animal concerns were more likely to answer that their initial impetus had been emotional. When health concerns were the beginning motivation, they were more likely to answer that they had used logic.

Affiliations: 1: Institute for Integrated Social Analysis


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