Feasibility of food alternatives, or changing the way people eat food in general, can differ based on a lot of different factors. Location is one factor that affects the feasibility of certain diets in the world. This post will examine a study conducted by Emma Lea and Anthony Worsley examining the perceived benefits and barriers to the consumption of a vegetarian diet of six hundred and one South Australian residents. You can find the research paper here.
The study was conducted by picking one thousand randomly selected people of the South Australian population from the telephone directory. A questionnaire, as well as information about the study, was mailed in a reply-paid envelope to residents in 1999. The were six hundred and one respondents to the questionnaire from which the study is based. 1.5% of the sample identified as vegetarian and 7.2% of the sample identified as semi-vegetarian. Close to 40% of the sample expressed interest in vegetarianism. 65.2% of the sample had moderate meat consumption. The main barrier to adopting a vegetarian diet for many respondents was they enjoyed eating meat. Second, there was a perceived need for more information about vegetarians diets. Both men and women perceived changing eating habits and routines as a perceived barrier of vegetarianism. Many older men in the sample agreed that humans are ‘meant’ to eat meat. Most respondents agreed that a benefit of a vegetarian diet is increased health benefits from fruit and vegetable consumption as well as lower fat intake. Health benefits, including weight control and disease prevention, were paramount.
The comments that 30% or more respondents agreed with include:
-“I like eating meat”
-“I do not want to change my eating habit or routine”
-“I think humans are meant to eat meat”
-“My family eats meat”
-“I need more information about vegetarian diet”
-“There is too limited a choice when I eat out”
-“My friends eat meat”
-“My family/spouse/partner won’t eat vegetarian food”
Overall, respondents are interested in a vegetarian diet, but also really like meat. Thus, the study concludes that, from results of the study, there would be more interest in plant based diets with some consumption of meat than no-meat diets. Also, after watching Ted Talks such as Why I’m a Weekday Vegetarian and What’s Wrong with what We Eat, both speakers eat meat, yet comment of how big of a detriment our current meat industry is. One of the speakers admits that he probably never will completely exclude meat from his diet. What’s the takeaway from this? How feasible is a vegetarian diet, really? Based on the research conducted in this post, the future of food, with regards to bettering our environment, will probably consist of eating plant-based diets with some meat consumption (in developed countries). With the knowledge of the health benefits of eating less/no meat and interest in vegetarianism, respondents to the survey have helped shaped our idea of how feasible meat alternative diets are: it is feasible to lessen meat consumption. I think that the extent to which the decrease in meat consumption is implemented relies heavily on how meat will be marketed in the future. A study done in North Carolina concluded that in order to increase the number or vegetarian diets, policymakers should support programs should work on decreasing the cost and increase the supply of good-quality fruits and vegetables in the market in low-income communities.