Vegans Do it Alone

January 20, 2010

OK, so that headline would make the world’s worst bumper sticker, but there’s enormous truth to the statement.

Two days ago, I posted this question to the Facebook fan page:

If you’re vegan, how many vegans did you know when you made the switch?

Of the 144 people who posted answers, 99 wrote that they didn’t know a single vegan when they stopped eating animal products. Amazing. You would have expected a number like that back in the 1980s, but I’m shocked to discover such a high number today.

Granted, we could spend some money to get a more accurate number that controls for the fact that readers are smarter, better looking, and more socially poised than run-of-the-mill vegans. But it seems safe to say that more than half of people going vegan today do so completely on their own. You would never expect some important, possibly groundbreaking, social science findings about vegans to come out of postings to a Facebook wall.

Two final comments. First, anybody who goes vegan all by themselves, without an ounce of external support, deserves a hell of a lot of credit. And second, it’s fair to say that people are much more likely to go vegan when they know other vegans. I’d therefore expect to see the vegan population surge once the average omnivore has two or three vegans in his or her life. But we’re obviously still a long, long way from reaching that point. All the more reason to get out there and leaflet—even with no support whatsoever, there are countless people who will eagerly change their diets once they learn about where their food comes from. Link.

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