What’s Making Vegans

This is another post based on my 2016 survey of NZ Vegans, and as such applies to NZ specifically. I will briefly touch on this point in my survey report (coming soon!) but wish to expand on it in more detail here as I think it’s an interesting point of discussion.

One of the questions asked in my survey was “What was the most important reason you became vegan?”. The most common answers were Animal Rights (67.2%), The Environment (13.8%), and Health (14%). The interesting part though is how these motivators are changing over time.

As you can see, up until a few years ago, only 8% of vegans were becoming vegan for primarily environmental reasons. However, over the past few years, this proportion has more than doubled, such that 20% of people who became vegan in the past year did so for primarily environmental reasons. This is quite a large upwards trend, and who knows where it will level out.

So why do I think this is important enough to write a blog post about it? Because peoples attitudes are changing! For a long time, vegan activism has focused on the three-pillar “Animals, Environment, and Health” approach – and one of the pillars seems to be taking on much more weight.

My opinion is that there has been a huge increase of media attention in the more recent years on the role animal agriculture has in climate change, and it really seems that this is an effective message in driving people towards veganism. As successful advocates for veganism, we need to look at data such as this, ask ourselves “what do people respond to?”, and push that message to them. Do we ignore the animal rights or health messages? No, not at all. Animal rights is still the driving force behind movement to veganism, and deserves the most of our attention, but lets afford the environmental argument it’s due effort, and adjust our behaviours accordingly.

And if you’re here thinking “But what about the animals!? It’s the ethics of animal exploitation I want to focus on!” fear not, 80% of those who become vegan for mainly environmental reasons still also factor animal rights into their decision. Of that 20% who didn’t factor animal rights into their initial decision to become vegan, 70% of them now claim animal rights as one of the reasons they stay vegan.

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