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STUDY: How people transition to veganism

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The research findings has some important take-aways for veganism advocates. Many people are in the contemplative stage, so advocates should target that group with strategic information. News articles and conversations may be a good way to give people information about animal products that they’ll remember.

ROBERT WALKER: For animal advocates, it is important to understand how and why people transition towards a vegan diet. Such information can help inform dietary campaigns and allow advocates to better support new and early vegans throughout their journey.

Some academics have developed theories about how and why dietary change occurs. However, these theories are only useful if they accurately describe reality. For this reason, the authors of this paper tried to find out whether two theories of dietary change accurately describe the process of switching to veganism.

The first theory is the transtheoretical model, which outlines six stages to dietary change: Pre-contemplation (or not knowing about the problem); Contemplation (or awareness of the problem); Preparation (or getting ready to change); Action (or recently having made the change); Maintenance (or continuing the change in the long term); Termination (or no longer having impulses to return to previous behavior)…

The second theory is called the “COM-B Model”, which says that, in order to change a behavior, someone needs to have the capability (internal ability), opportunity (external physical and social support), and motivation.

To test these two models, the researchers surveyed 1,529 U.K. residents over a one-year period. Each participant was asked various questions about their thoughts on eating animal products, on veganism, and on their current eating habits, three times across the year. They analyzed this data and made some interesting findings.

The transtheoretical model was somewhat supported. The researchers found that people in later stages are more motivated to be vegan and more confident in their ability to stop eating animal products… The COM-B model was not supported. Capability, opportunity, and motivation to be vegan were not correlated with how much meat people ate later. The researchers suggested that the COM-B model might be too vague to make concrete predictions about people’s behavior…

There were also some more general findings in this study. First, both women and young people were found to be more sympathetic to veganism. Second, people were most likely to learn about the negative effects of eating animal products from news articles, and conversations with vegans and vegetarians. Third, about half of the participants were still at the pre-contemplation stage of the process of change. Fourth, greater consumption of meat and dairy alternatives was found to be linked to a lower consumption of animal products. This suggests that encouraging people to eat these products would reduce total demand for these animal products…

The research has some important take-aways for advocates. Many people are in the contemplative stage, so advocates should target that group with strategic information. News articles and conversations may be a good way to give people information about animal products that they’ll remember. SOURCE…

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