Vegan buddha bowl. Bowl with fresh raw vegetables - cabbage, carrot, zucchini, lettuce, watercress salad, tomatoes cherry and avocado, nuts and pomegranate on slate background

Researchers at Edge Hill University have discovered what might encourage people to go vegan.

Prof Claire Parkinson, Dr Richard Twine and Naomi Griffin from Edge Hill’s Centre for Human Animal Studies (CfHAS) carried out a year of research funded by The Vegan Society.

They found that non-vegans were more likely to go vegan (move to a plant-based diet avoiding all animal foods) if they saw positive health messages and/or had friends and family who were vegan.

The study also revealed that the moral position on veganism was more likely to result in a longer-term commitment to the lifestyle. Prof Parkinson said:

“The research revealed that non-vegans were more receptive to health messages about veganism than to environmental or ethics messages. It also showed how important family dynamics are in establishing and maintaining food practices.

“It was interesting to find out that celebrity endorsement of veganism was viewed with such a high degree of scepticism by study participants, but our findings also suggested that vegan sportspeople and celebrities are important in challenging stereotypes around vegans’ health and strength.”

Prof Claire Parkinson and Dr Richard Twine

Dr Twine added:

“Some of the most interesting findings of our study are in the way food practices come to constitute everyday routines which can be resistant to change. Family relations were seen to be both barriers and pathways to veganism.

“It was also interesting to see that vegetarian practice was becoming ‘pulled toward veganism’. Barely any of our vegetarian interviewees only excluded meat from their diet but had also begun to exclude other animal products.”

The Pathways to Veganism study, the first of its kind, questioned meat-eaters and vegetarians to understand how non-vegans perceive veganism and which pro-vegan messages are the most effective.

Findings also revealed;

  • 1 per cent of participants had friends and family who were vegan
  • 9 per cent of participants had eaten a vegan meal
  • 84 per cent of non-vegan participants thought veganism could be a healthy way of eating
  • 84 per cent of non-vegan participants also didn’t think meat was essential for a healthy diet

Dr Lorna Brocksopp, Research Officer at The Vegan Society, said:

“This has been an excellent opportunity for The Vegan Society to be proactively involved in a piece of academic research which will have a direct impact on professional practice. The findings will be instrumental in shaping our future campaigns and research directions and it has been a pleasure to collaborate with CfHAS.”

Further details from the research will be available in May from www.thevegansociety.com