School of Behavioral Sciences




vegan, vegetarian, plant-based, diet differences, animals


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


There is a gap in literature related to studies that explicitly compare vegetarians to vegans, as existing studies typically group these diets together and examine carnivorous and omnivorous diets in order to identify similarities and differences. The purpose of this study is to look at vegetarian and vegan diets to see if differences in attitudes towards animals, perceptions of animal usage, consumption, and morality exist. Participants included vegetarian and vegan Liberty University students (graduate and undergraduate, online and residential) who were at least 18 years old. Overall, one hundred students took part in the study, 50 of them were vegetarian and 50 of them were vegan. They completed an anonymous online survey measuring demographics, attitudes towards animals, perceptions of animal usage, and morality. Overall, there was a statistically significant difference between vegans and vegetarians in attitudes toward animals as well as their perception of human and animal similarity. There was also a significant difference between one of the five domains regarding moral decision-making, the fairness/reciprocity domain. However, in the other four domains (harm/care, in-group/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity), there was not a significant difference between the vegan and vegetarian group. Since past studies have grouped vegans and vegetarians as alike, these results seem support the importance of maintaining a separation between diets and subgroups in future studies since differences may exist between the groups.

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