Vegans are happier than meat-eaters, US survey finds

Vegans are reporting higher levels of happiness compared to meat-eater, according to an encouraging new study released by Tracking Happiness.

The large-scale study, titled Eat Green, Be Happy includes: Evidence Of The Connection Between Veganism And Happiness, collected data from 11,537 USA respondents. Of these respondents, 8,988 identified as meat-eaters, 422 as pescatarian, 948 as vegetarian, and 1,179 were vegan.

The study consisted of participants being asked a number of questions regarding their happiness, their thoughts on veganism, and if they’d adopt a vegan diet in the future

Additionally, the report found that attitudes and negative stigmas towards veganism have dramatically shifted for the better, concluding that only 14% of the meat-eating respondents reported a negative bias towards vegans. It also revealed that non-vegans aren’t nearly as opposed to veganism as the stereotypes and previous reports suggest.

 

Vegans report 7% higher happiness ratings than meat-eaters

The above image shows the results from the groups after they were asked how happy they felt regarding their diet on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being happiest)

The ratings averaged at:

  • Vegans: 7.27
  • Vegetarians: 7.31
  • Pescatarians: 6.99
  • Meat-eaters: 6.80

The data showed that vegans were 7% happier than meat-eaters, who scored the lowest on the happiness rating.

For many people, going vegan has had a significant positive effect on their mental health. Following a plant-based diet can provide the body with essential nutrients to help keep our energy levels up, as well as having the opportunity to join a supportive community and get creative with vegan cooking.

In addition, there is also no guilt surrounding animal cruelty. In a study carried out by Hank Rothgerber, a social psychologist at Bellarmine University, Kentucky, Rothgerber illustrated that meat-eaters experienced ‘cognitive dissonance’ when eating meat. This meant that they understand that eating meat is wrong so they disassociate animals and meat to suppress the guilt. Some scientists have coined this as the ‘meat paradox‘

Adopting a vegan diet

Secondly, participants were asked, “how likely are you to ever adopt a vegan diet?”. Interestingly, the Tracking Happiness team concluded that the non-vegans who scored higher in the happiness survey were more likely to adopt a vegan diet in the future.

The study suggested that these findings could explain why vegans consider themselves to be happier than non-vegans.

“Perhaps, happier people are in a better state of mind before considering going 100% vegan. Someone that is already unhappy might be less tempted to give up the consumption of animal products,” the study noted.

Since the pandemic, more people are engaging in conversations surrounding veganism and understanding the positive effects it has on us and the planet. In fact, a staggering one in 10 Brits (12%) say the COVID-19 pandemic has ‘made a vegan diet more appealing’.

The change in the stigma surrounding veganism

For years, Western society has viewed vegans as ‘annoying’ and ‘preachy’. These negative stereotypes are one of the reasons why many people are unwilling to engage in conversations about veganism and lead to misinterpretations of the movement.

In 2015, the report It Aint Easy Eating Green suggested that only drug addicts face more hatred and prejudices than vegans. The study was performed using a similar survey technique to Tracking Happiness but included only 278 respondents in total. Despite the study having a small number of respondents, the report has become used worldwide and furthered the idea that vegans are disliked.

Tracking Happiness asked its meat-eater participants what their opinions were on vegans (or veganism) and less than 15% out of 8,988 held a negative opinion. It is clear that even compared to the 2015 report, peoples attitudes and stigmas towards veganism have changed for the better.

Founder of Plant You Carleigh Bodrug commented on the findings, explaining “The perception of vegans has definitely shifted to a more positive light in the last five years, in my experience.

“I personally believe this is because of education on the impact animal agriculture has on our precious earth, being one of the leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.”

 

“Vegans can enjoy peace of mind and a clean conscience”

Discussing the results of the study, PETA Vice President of International Programmes Mimi Bekhechi commented “It’s no wonder vegans are happier – by sparing animals atrocious suffering, helping to save the planet, and improving their own health, vegans can enjoy peace of mind and a clean conscience.

“If you want to join the happy v-gang, you’re in luck: going vegan has never been easier or tastier.”

Want to help a family member or friend switch to a vegan diet? Try this seven-day vegan meal plan for new vegans.

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