Abstract This study examines the link between social structural variables (gender, race, education, age, rural childhood), individual social psychology (altruism, self‐interest, traditionality, and openness to change), and beliefs about the benefits of vegetarianism (for health, the environment, animals, and world hunger) and self‐reported vegetarianism. Data from a random sample of 420 adult U.S. residents showed that 5.2 percent considered themselves vegetarian. The strongest predictor of vegetarianism as a dietary choice was the belief that vegetarianism is beneficial to the environment. None of the social structural variables had a direct influence on vegetarianism as a dietary choice. Of the four values studied, only altruism and traditional values influenced beliefs about the benefits of vegetarianism. Altruistic values increased, and traditional values decreased, beliefs that vegetarianism is beneficial to health, the environment, farm animals, and world hunger. Blacks were more likely than Whites to adhere to the beliefs that vegetarianism helps prevent cruelty to farm animals, is beneficial to personal health, and is beneficial to the environment. The race differences in beliefs persisted even with controls for values.
Rural Sociology – Wiley
Published: Sep 1, 1999
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