A new study finds that vegetarians are mostly motivated to follow their nutritional lifestyle due to health reasons, rather than other factors, like the environment or animal rights.
The consensus was determined by a group of researchers at the University of California, Davis. In their new findings, published in PLOS One, the group administered surveys to a total of 8,000 participants from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and age groups.
According to UC Davis researchers, “the purposes of this study were to develop a measure of health, environmental, and animal rights motives for vegetarian eating, examine the correlates of these dimensions, and test whether motives differentially predict responses to advocacy materials.”
In their study, the participants were subjected to a series of tests. The research group contrived a measurement scale known as the Vegetarian Eating Motives Inventory (VEMI) to assess motivations behind plant-based diets in Western cultures.
Using the VEMI scale, they were able to identify health motives as the primary cause for their transition into a plant-based diet, more prevalently than the other two conventional choices: environmental factors and animal rights.
“Overall, findings from three diverse samples suggested that health motives are the most common reason to consider adopting a plant-based diet in general and that health motives have the broadest array of correlates,” the UC Davis group stated in the findings.
“A number of criteria reliably correlated with plant-based motives across samples. People motivated by health was more conventional, as defined by 20 variables (e.g., male, hard-working, obedient, life satisfaction, and religiosity). The only variables that correlated uniquely with environmental motives were openness to experience and having visited a museum.”
“Being involved in a religious organization and doing crafts were uniquely related to the animal rights motive. Valuing intellectual pursuits was related to both health and environmental motives, whereas being involved in a humanity organization was related to both environmental and animal rights motives. Finally, nine variables were related to both health and animal rights motives. As a group, they seemed to involve morality (e.g., conscientiousness, valuing truth, being self-controlled).”
Given the findings put forth by researchers, advocacy movements may find difficulty in where to target nonvegetarians who are considering the idea of transforming their dietary lifestyle by reducing meat consumption.
Based on researchers’ assessment, people motivated by health reasons are typically more correlated with masculinity and so gyms may be a feasible way to target such kinds of people to advertise. For those motivated by environmental or animal rights, museums or concerts are ideal places.
“In a general population, health motives are the most common and have the widest array of correlates, which generally involve agentic and communal values.”
“However, people who cite health motives were relatively unresponsive to advocacy materials compared to people who cite environmental or animal rights motives,” UC Davis researchers noted.