Return to the previous page or the poster index.

Motivations For Meat Consumption Among Ex-Vegetarians (2009)

Author(s): Morgan Childers and Harold Herzog

Organization(s): Western Carolina University, USA

Corresponding author: Harold Herzog (click to contact)

Abstract (click to show/hide)
There are three times as many ex-vegetarians in the United States as vegetarians (Herzog & Golden, in press). There is, however, scant research on the process which people decide to resume meat-eating. We used an online survey to examine why people abandon vegetarianism. Ex-vegetarians were recruited through personal referral and from the social networking sites Facebook and MySpace. Participants were asked about the relative importance of factors in their decision to stop eating meat and in their decision to resume eating meat. They were also asked about their present and past frequency of meat consumption. Morality was the most important reason that participants originally became vegetarian (49% of participants). In decisions to resume eating meat, however, the most important factors were health concerns (30% of participants), convenience (21%), and culinary/meat cravings (23%), social reasons (19%). Moral thinking was mentioned by only 5% of respondents. Thus, while moral reasons were the most frequently cited reason for becoming a vegetarian, they were the least frequently mentioned reason for resuming meat-eating. Moral concerns are highly influential in motivating the adoption of a vegetarian lifestyle, but changes in moral perspectives play a minor role in the decision to resume eating meat. Thirty-eight percent of the participants indicated that their decision to return to meat was the result of a sudden decision, while 62% said it was a gradual change. Thirty-five percent of participants said they were animal activists even though they ate meat. However, they consumed significantly less meat than non-activists (p < .01).