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Vegetarianism/Veganism: A Sociological Analysis
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The vegetarian/vegan movement, as all social movements, is impacted by systemic issues, here, the issues of race, class, and gender. This study begins with an analysis of the relationships between these systemic issues and vegetarianism/veganism, by means of an examination of twenty well-known vegetarians/vegans. The twenty were selected on the basis both of their importance to the movement, and on the amount of material written about them. My findings are first, concerning race, that there was a greater number of non-Hispanic Whites than Blacks, Latinos/as, or Asians among the twenty vegetarians/vegans, a finding consistent with the literature on the subject. Secondly, in terms of social class, the selection of twenty vegetarians/vegans had more individuals from the upper-middle and lower-upper classes, than from the lower social classes. Finally, concerning gender, more men than women were included in the list of twenty. This latter finding is not consistent with the literature which indicates that more women than men are vegetarian/vegan, this is probably due to the fact that, generally speaking, women tend to be under-represented in the mass media. The second part of this study is a micro-analysis of the discourse of five of the twenty vegetarians/vegans. Their motivations for becoming vegetarian/vegan are discussed, in particular their concern for animal welfare and human health. The analysis of the five also demonstrated that their paths to becoming vegetarian/vegan rarely were direct and that most experienced some back-and-forth movements in the process of their conversions. Based on the accounts of the five, factors facilitating the conversion to vegetarianism/veganism included the importance of having a strong vegetarian/vegan social network, of having the support of close friends and family, and the important role that media plays in the diffusion of the movement. On the other hand, factors keeping people from becoming or from staying vegetarian/vegan are presented, such as negative stereotypes about veganism, as well as the absence of the link between meat about to be eaten and the fact that this meat once was a living animal.
Reymond, Stephanie (2016). Vegetarianism/Veganism: A Sociological Analysis. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from