A qualitative examination of the motivations behind vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore diets in an Australian population


There is a growing shift towards meat reducing diets, especially in Western nations, in the last decade. Whilst research has examined the potential motivations in adopting meat reducing diets, there are a limited number of studies which directly compare diet-related motivations across dietary groups, especially comparing meat reducing diet groups to omnivores. As such, it is unclear whether these dietary groups have distinctly different motivations for adopting their diets. This study aimed to examine the motivations that underlie people’s dietary choices, and to compare these across three dietary groups; vegan, vegetarian, omnivore. A sample of 701 participants participated in the study (Mage = 30.09, SDage = 10.91). Participants were asked to self-describe the diet they follow and provide a written response as to why they choose to follow this diet. A content analysis indicated that the participants' motivations were similar across the three dietary groups. Similar reasons included health and environment, with the health reason common across all three groups. For vegan and vegetarians the most common was animal welfare. However, taste and enjoyment for diet was most common for omnivores. The overlap in responses across the dietary groups suggests that dietary motivations are similar across these three groups. Therefore, rather than simply employing motivations to encourage reduced meat diets, it may be better to develop more personalised interventions to achieve this.