Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

Vegans/Vegetarians on College Campuses

This is an interesting article. It's too long to post the whole thing here, so I'll just excerpt a couple of bits, but I encourage everyone to read the whole thing.

This part talks about the change in how people identify themselves in 2009-2010 compared to in 2005-2006.

Bon Appétit Management Co., which services Penn's dining facilities, has noticed an upswing in the number of students who say that they are vegetarian or vegan, said Terri Brownlee, the regional director of nutrition for Bon Appétit.

The company manages more than 4,000 corporate, college and university accounts. In a 2005-2006 feedback survey among college students at campuses that Bon Appétit oversees, an average of 8 percent said that they were vegetarian, and less than 1 percent identified themselves as vegan. The 2009-2010 survey, however, had very different results: 12 percent identified themselves as vegetarian and 2 percent said that they follow a vegan diet.

 This quote is by Drexel University Senior Associate VP Rita LaRue Gollotti:

"There is a lot of interest in eating vegetarian and vegan, but I would say the students don't even know that's what they're doing," Gollotti said. "At this age, there are a lot of students for whom food is an issue, and they don't want to be different.

"Our goal is to make it as integrated as possible so we're not calling them out separately. Some are very, very proud of [being vegetarian or vegan] and have no problems putting it out there, but a lot of students who are 18, 19 years old just want to be part of a group."

What I find interesting in all this is the role social norms seem to play in people's willingness or ability to adopt changes in their own lives. Nick Cooney, author of Change of Heart: What psychology can teach us about spreading social change, makes the case that even when people say they believe in the things activists for social change advocate for, they do not act on those beliefs, for a variety of reasons, a major one of which are the prevailing social norms. This article seems to offer some anecdotal evidence that Cooney may be right.

In his book, Cooney relies on more than 70 years of research into social & psychological behavior. It's definitely worth checking out.

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Comment by NR on August 20, 2011 at 15:39
This is interesting!  I do think that veganism and animal rights is too often regulated to a "trendy" status, where it is incorporated into a life without a real valuation.  Think of PETAs numerous "Rather go Naked than Wear Fur" advertisements, which frequently feature non-vegan models, who wear leather and eat meat (and sometimes also wear fur.)  I think that PETA2 often falls victim to this, with endless marketing campaigns and meaningless slogans of which I feel have no substantive value to the animal rights movement.   What does dressing up like a zombie have to do with animal rights or veganism (re: PETA2 campaign?)  Anyway, thank you for bringing up this topic!

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