Like recycling and volunteering at homeless shelters, the idea of giving up meat gives us a window into the human condition, and how our actions aren’t always as great as our intentions.
It’s certainly something good I’d like to do, but never get around to due to the massive effort required, as well as my own massive laziness. Around two per cent of people in the United Kingdom (1.2 million) identify as vegetarian, but there are a growing number of people who eschew animal products altogether.
These are the vegans, and although there are now upwards of 500,000 of them living in Britain, there are many more people who have rejected the lifestyle, and not for dietary or even ethical reasons. A new survey has talked to people around the UK, and they’ve found that part of the problem could actually be the vegans themselves.
As with all demographics, vegans come in all shapes, sizes as well as personalities, but the pervading image of those sworn off animal products are the stereotypical animal-loving crusaders or carnivore haters. The most blatant example of this is the animal rights group PETA, and there are many people out there who will attempt to guilt trip you or shock you into not eating meat.
Unfortunately for those people, those efforts could prove to be counter-productive, after a new survey by the site VoucherCodesPro talked to 2,363 people from around the United Kingdom to determine why they were yet to jettison meat from their diets.
Two thirds of the people surveyed said they had considered giving up steaks, burgers and other meats to become vegan or vegetarian in the past 12 months, thanks in part to the slaughterhouse footage as well as the significant health benefits. They didn’t quite manage it, though, and there were typically five reasons as to why.
At the top of the list, 81 per cent of people admitted that the taste was a massive barrier to going meat-free, while others cited a dearth of meal options or lack of support from their family and friends at 58 and 41 per cent respectively. A worrying 26 per cent, however, said that the attitude of certain vegans and vegetarians around them put them off taking the plunge.
So what exactly is so off-putting about vegan attitudes, then? Of the 26 per cent who identified this the main deterrent, around 37 per cent said that vegans “were quite aggressive to those eating meat” and one in four said that they’d been lectured extensively about their diets prior to making the switch.
Of course, there are a couple of caveats to consider with this survey; firstly, this study only looks at people who are meat eaters (not those who have successfully gone plant-based), so it’s difficult to say whether or not these discouraging techniques are effective. There’s also the fact that the survey was carried out by VoucherCodesPro, who may be more inclined to look at the financial aspect of the decision, so these results should be taken with a pinch of salt.
That being said, it’s clear that vegetarians and vegans can struggle with an image problem of sorts, with a not insignificant portion of people failing to hear their message because of the nature of their campaigning. There are undoubtedly many benefits to going without meat, but until it’s presented in a more friendly way, this survey shows that there are people who won’t ever be converted.