HRC Research Primer: Why or Why Not Vegetarian?


This HRC primer summarizes the latest quantitative and qualitative research relating to motivations for and barriers against adopting a vegetarian diet.

The Bottom Line: A small proportion of U.S. adults (1-3%) are “actual” vegetarians or vegans, although about twice that number describe themselves as vegetarian when asked (see the HRC primer, “How Many Vegetarians Are There?” for details). Research on the motivations for both actual and self-described vegetarians (and vegans) finds that members of these groups select their diets based on multiple factors, usually including one primary motivator and one or more secondary motivators. The most frequently cited factors are related to ethics and health. Vegans are more often motivated by ethics than any other reason. The most significant barriers to vegetarianism and veganism are concerns about preferred taste, nutritional deficiencies, and convenience.

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