Vegan America


  1. 16 Million People in the US are Now Vegan or Vegetarian! • The Raw Food World News. (2015). Retrieved February 24, 2016, from
  2. Barford, V. (2014, February 14). The rise of the part-time vegans – BBC News. Retrieved March 25, 2016, from
  3. Grandjean, M. (2015). GEPHI – Introduction to Network Analysis and Visualization. Retrieved March 20, 2016, from
  4. History. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2016, from
  5. Manios, G. M. (2013). HU Library full pdf. Opgehaald van HU Library:
  6. McPherson, T. (2014). HU Library pdf full text. Opgehaald van HU  Library:
  7. The Open Graph Viz Platform. (2008). Retrieved March 20, 2016, from
  8. Rouse, M. (2013, January). DEFINITION Google Trends. Retrieved February 29, 2016, from Contributor: Heather Darcy
  9. Rosen, E. (2014). Top 50 Vegan Blogs. Retrieved March 1, 2016, from Institute For The Psychology of Eating
  10. Sentenac, H. (2015, December 31). Plant-Based Food Named a Top Trend for 2016. Retrieved March 25, 2016, from
  11. Vainio, A. N. (2015). HU Library full pdf. Opgehaald van HU Library:
  12. What Does Vegan Mean? (n.d.), Retrieved March 16, 2016, from
  13. Williamson, B. (2015, February 12). 2015 Food Trend: The Rise of the Vegan Pizza. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from

Policy recommendations

Our recommendation refers to American businesses who target vegans as their consumers, for instance,  Vegan Grocery Store, Vegan cafe and restaurants, who produce vegan preserves or chocolates and Vegan designs.

This research can help them a lot with a promotion of vegan related items since it explains why people go vegan and what attracts them.

The results from the research can help these businesses with promotional goals, like attracting more vegans, or gain brand recognition. The results of the research show these businesses why people go vegan, and what the most important reasons are to the consumer concerning their healthy and animal friendly food, and why they should go to these specific businesses (the answer would be of course because they share their ideals).


Our recommendations towards (starting) companies/ businesses that would like to gain more support from their consumers/ brand recognition, would be the following:

  • Show the audience you care by approaching vegan food labels to approve of your products.
  • Make sure your values overlap with those of your target audience, whether they are political, environmental or ethical reasons (it is important for you to know this).
  • Conduct netnography and online research to get a more in-depth look into the minds of your target audience

Summary of results

Our research question is: “What motivates people to go vegan?” Through online research like google trends, data scraping& visualization, literature review and the use of netnography, we tried to answer the research question. From our research, we found out several things, regarding veganism in America, namely the reasons why people turn vegan, and the themes / topics people use to discuss these online.

From the netnography and online research conducted by websites, social media and blogs, we found out the biggest reasons for people (in America) to turn vegan were the following:

  • Ethics (animal rights/ animal cruelty).
  • Healthy lifestyle.
  • Environment.

From the research which we conducted by use of Gephi and Instagram Hashtag Explorer, we found out that the main trends amongst veganism were: healthy lifestyle, vegan diets and animal cruelty.





Data collection

PART ONE: Our participation



PART TWO: Posts from participants



Political/ethical views



I first cut out meat to about half of what I used to eat simply because I was getting sick of it. Then, I finally cut it out entirely for the animals. It just got to a point where I actually wasn’t able to even swallow meat because it emotionally “clicked” that I was eating an animal. Saw some factory farming videos too.

Environmental issues



“Supposed environmentalist LEADERS pretending (I would think) to know NOTHING about how animal agriculture affects the environment”. Talking about the documentary cowspiracy.

Statement: animal agriculture affects the environment.



Threat about how plastic bags could be recycled. Vegan + environment concern. This person participates in a vegan community and posts about environmental issues, so we can say that one of their reasons to become vegan was environmental concerns.



They won’t talk about animal agriculture. Why would they? They already complain about “having it shoved down their throats”.

They will tell people to drive less, take shorter showers, recycle, that sort of thing. Nothing that actually helps.


Less than 10 days ago (22/02/2016 – 1/02/2016)

Political/ethical views



I agree that Bill Clinton was never vegan; he was just eating plant based.

OTOH, anyone who eats plant based, for whatever reason, is decreasing animal suffering.



I’m an 18 year old girl and have been vegan for several years because I’m really passionate about animal welfare and just very compassionate in general.



I’m an Australian, and meat has been part of my diet and culture since I was born, from Australia day bbq to Bunnings sausage sizzles. I am currently 16 and have been thinking about vegetarianism and veganism recently. I’m a smart kid and try to base my actions and morals around logic and I can’t find any logical reason that would morally justify killing an animal for food. We are perfectly able to support ourselves without meat, I would understand killing an animal if you were say, lost in the woods or something, but in day to day life I can’t find any logical reason to do it.

The thing is though, when I do eat meat, I don’t feel guilty about it. Logically I know it is wrong but it is as if subconscious my brain doesn’t care. Was it like this for anyone else when they first started to become a vegetarian/vegan?



As a vegetarian for 17 years I never advocated for animals. Since going vegan for the past 2 years I felt I needed to start speaking up for them, so I do. Sometimes its lonely and I get upset when people clearly don’t care. I wonder if I even want to have these people in my social circle but like minded ones seem so far and in between. Sometimes it feels like when they disrespect animals they disrespect me and I feel like cutting them off. I just wondered if anyone else felt the same and how to manage this isolation in the most positive way



Personally I feel you should do what you feel is best.  If I were in your shoes I would go gluten free without eating fish, but that is because I feel bad for the fish and It would totally disgust me.  It really depends on how you feel about fish.



‘There are many responsible colony caretakers providing humane population control of the species through TNRM (trap neuter return manage) I would urge you to support these responsible colony caretakers who have been doing the county’s and state’s job for them for years by taking on the personal responsibility of controlling populations. It is humans that have created the over population of cats by being irresponsible owners and dumping, abandoning and casting off owned animals to become free roaming.’

Please consider contacting senators Nishihara and Wakai to state your opposition to the plans, and to give your support to TNRM programmes and penalties for those who abandon their pets.



Hi! My name is Lyn, I’ve been a vegan for about 3 days. After seeing the horrible cruelty animals go through while being used to produce food, I couldn’t justify eating meat, milk or eggs anymore. I’m surprised that I don’t crave meat, but I am curious about the vegan meat substitutes. I want to keep my diet as “normal” as I can. (Close to my previous diet.)





Hey guys!

SO… After I got educated about vegan lifestyle and what it is all about, I decided to go vegan!

I originally just wanted to loose weight. But now I’ve learnt vegan diet has so much more too offer.

I love cooking and I have been making a lot delicious vegan food other than salads.



Oh I agree completely. When the situation isn’t dire and there is time to explore options, then investigating alternatives may make sense. And yes, the healthier we keep ourselves (not just individuals, but as a whole community) the fewer animals will be subjected to the horrors of experimentation and medical testing.



Hey guys, I’m going to transitioning into Veganism in 15 days and was wondering if I could just jump into it? is there any precautions I should take? how quickly do you lose weight? When do you feel the energy boosti’ve been hearing about? what is better Raw vegan or just vegan?



I was underweight for a long time before I became vegetarian, which was in October. I look and feel so much healthier and I have a lot more energy.



I was a unhealthy vegetarian for years and switched to plant based on March 2014, I didn’t call myself vegan because I still used products from animal, shoes, makeup, etc. But the more I evolved the more I recognized the need to to become a vegan, which I did in September 2014.


I love not eating animals, but when I gave up dairy and eggs it had more to do with my cholesterol and blood pressure than with my feelings for cows and chickens.



My name is Adam and i’m 20 years old. I’ve been a vegan for 4 months now and it’s the greatest i’ve felt in my entire life. I want to promote veganism and a healthy lifestyle so I decided to make some cool t-shirts


Vegan Reddit

Archive (before 22/02/2016)


Political/ethical views



“I seriously didn’t even know where to start. I took a deep breath, and gave them my reasons.

  1. I educated myself as to where our meat comes from. It’s sick, cruel, and not natural.
  2. Eating a plant based diet has an abundant amount of benefits for my health”.

Statement: their reasons to went vegan were ethics and secondarily living a healthier lifestyle.





“A couple of weeks ago, I decided to do something good for myself, my food budget, and the planet: I gave-up animal products entirely”.

Statement: Not consuming animal products is healthier.



“A couple of weeks ago, I decided to do something good for myself, my food budget, and the planet: I gave-up animal products entirely”.

Statement: Not consuming animal products is healthier. Secondarily environment.



“Lately, I’m trying to eat healthier and exercise more. One of my friends turned me onto eating vegan for the health benefits, and the problems within the commercial animal agriculture”.

Statement: they went vegan for health and secondarily for ethics


Environmental issues



“I’m not vegan, but I’ve heard about this. Actually it is the reason I stopped eating red meat.. I truly believe at some point wars will be fought over water…”.

Statement: they stopped eating meat in order to save water.


Less than 10 days ago (20/02/2016 – 1/02/2016)

Political/ethical views



What does a vegan lifestyle entail?

Living in accordance with an ethical stance against the exploitation and killing of animals.

What were their main motives for changing their lifestyle?

The realization that living creatures are not products for human consumption and a dedication to fighting against hierarchy in all aspects of life.



“I’m doing more good than all you meat eaters you’re destroying so much one day it’ll all be gone and well… its thanks to you meat eaters for over consuming and supporting that industry half of you don’t really know what that industry is all about!!! but yet you support it and think its okay for animal to be tortured and slaughtered next time before you eat a Big Mac think of the animals life that once was”.



“What I love about being cruelty-free is I don’t contribute to the pain and suffering and it makes me feel less guilty. Unfortunately, I can’t save all the animals or I would have”.



“This is all semantics. If you would feel bad killing a dog, I don’t understand how you can support an industry that kills millions of animals per day when you could just eat something else”.



But protecting animal welfare by not torturing them their whole lives, killing them, and eating them, is not a legitimate aim of the law? What’s the difference to the animals?



“Remember that veganism is about reducing the harm to animals as much as possible”.



“…remember that being vegan entails avoiding animal cruelty as far as practicable”.



“Veganism is animal rights”



I’m going to go out on a limb and say that no medications are vegan, especially if you count animal testing. If your meds work for you, take them. In the big picture you’re doing so much more good than bad, so sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. You wouldn’t have this med if you didn’t need it for something.



I didn’t care much for the health benefits, but I did care for the animals (ironically, my recent switch came from health reasons first, then the ethics from doing some research afterwards).



I reeled at the claim that dairy causes the least amount of harm. Are you kidding? Not only are you subjecting a cow to anywhere between 3 and 7 years of sexual exploitation (read: abuse) and deprived motherhood (a tragedy for both cow and calf), but each one of those calves faces their own version of hell. Finally, the exhausted spent cow is murdered herself, after a short lifetime of torture. How anyone could consider that a lesser form of harm is beyond me.



I’m not really sure I can put a label on what I am. I’m a meat eater who is currently trying to transition into vegetarianism. I had a Boca burger for dinner last night, so that’s cool. I don’t like any form of animal cruelty, but I wasn’t ready to make the huge lifestyle change to vegetarianism or veganism until recently.



So after 6 years of being together, my SO has finally decided to go vegan! (Hooray!) But while I’ve been doing it for ethical reasons, his main concern is environmental.



Then I can say “that’s right! But not just any dairy cow! Cows only make milk if we make them have a baby cow. Then we have to take the baby cow away so that we can have the milk. That’s why I don’t like to drink milk or eat cookies with whey.”



Because my SO lives with me many animals were not raised for slaughter. At home our meals are most often vegan.

When I visit friends they make largely vegan meals.



I would still like to encourage her “cleanse” but still remind her (in a positive way) about the ethical motivations for giving up animal products. She knows the difference between a plant-based diet and ethical veganism (she knows I don’t wear leather, etc). So I don’t need to explain the difference to her. What are some things I can do to help or show support?



Speciesism. Humans feel that because they think they are superior, they have the right to treat animals however they want. We separate ourselves from animals all the time, despite that we are animals to begin with. It’s very sad and almost sickening how we seem to choose to value only the cuter animals, which is why we value our specifically bred pets more than a frog or bug. It’s very sad. 😦



But he still funds a nightmarish industry. He eats meat knowing about factory farming conditions. He drinks milk and grates cheese, even after visiting an animal sanctuary with me once and falling in love with the resident bull, Mookie.



I went vegetarian the day I found out meat is made of animals. That was in 1997, when I was five. Ironically, the first I ever heard of veganism was when I was eleven or twelve, when my mom was telling me she thought it was a ridiculous lifestyle because eggs and milk don’t require you to kill an animal.



But I still believe that consumption of meat and dairy is ethically and environmentally harmful and hence I have decided to go ahead and adopt a mainly vegan diet.



It’s not like I had to try to hold myself back, I just thought “What the fuck, I don’t want to have animals tortured just so I can fill my face with this.” I actually had no desire to ceat it. I used to think meat was quintessential part of food, but now I just see it as a different type of food, a type that is more useless and immoral. I thought that it would be hard to hold myself back from meat, but I genuinely don’t want it for some reason.



I’ve never liked meat as much as my husband. I’ve always loved animals and dealt with a lot of guilt when I was going through some medical problems that required me to eat meat, it ended up destroying me mentally and after that I decided to give it up entirely. My husband doesn’t cook much, and doesn’t really grocery shop so it was easy enough to have a vegan friendly household (aside from eggs he’d buy or what have you).



“I always called myself an animal lover when I was an omnivore, and then I realised that it was hypocritical for me to say that and still eat animals/animal products. Veganism makes me feel healthier and like I’m making a difference, even if it’s only a small difference :)”



“I gave up red meat when I found out cows have best friends”.



“Right on point….the horrific animal abuse is what it’s all about….even if it’s hard to watch. That’s the whole reason for being veg*n or vegan”.

Statement: they go vegan to stop animal abuse, that the only reason.



“Treat your own self and your family with respect, avoiding unhealthy food, drunk driving, etc. and you’ll be reducing the amount of medical care that will be needed, which lessens the demand for animal testing”.

What do vegans think about animal testing in medicine?

Statement: If you stay healthy so you consume less animal testing based medicines.





“Show them that animal products are unhealthy. […] Animal products have been proven to promote heart disease and processed meat is a CLASS 1 carcinogen”.



I’m vegan for health.

I would not eat lab grown meat, because of my health. Too much animal protein. It would wreak havoc on my body.



I am trying to go full vengan, tired of food related health issues



I originally did it to be more healthy, but the longer I was vegan, the more detached from animal products I became. I started to learn about the ways animals are treated in the industry, and now I’m vegan for the animals.



When I gathered enough information and thought that maybe it was worth a shot for my health, I slowly started cutting out animal products.



Vegan for just over 5 years. I was suffering from bad sinus problems and a friend said, “Why don’t you go vegan like me?” I laughed because he was about 6’5″ and built like a brick wall. He didn’t fit my stereotype of skinny, malnourished vegan. Anyway, he gave me a copy of the China Study. I read it in one day and went vegan immediately.



I’m thinking of going vegan for a month or two, seeing how I like it and maybe continuing on with it. My reasoning is for weight loss reasons, because I feel like if I do it correctly it will accompany my time at the gym nicely.



“I started out researching optimal nutrition and health because as an omni with a relatively “healthy” balance, I couldn’t understand why my body felt so unhealthy. So yeah, started out for health reasons, but with all I’ve learned – if I ever feel like a “cheat” day, well the ethical and environmental reasons keep me vegan”.



“Started off as health reasons, then ethical, then environmental”.     



“At first, it was mainly for health reasons, as I wasn’t feeling too good on my low carb diet. Empathy for animals was a part of it, but mostly health reasons. Now there’s no reason for me not to be vegan”.



“I wish I could go back in time and slap the excuses out of my old self!! For so long I could have been helping my body, but now I have to undo years of damage that over-indulging in cheese and other dairy products have done to it”.

They suggest that they went vegan because of health matters.

Statement: Consuming animal products harm your body.



“I’ve been vegan since December and I’ve lost 25 pounds since, and I don’t even work out. And I feel a fuck ton better/healthier overall”.

Statement:  after going vegan they feel healthier.


Environment issues



Like, think about it. We’re literally destroying the planet. According to a recent /r/worldnews article, Greenland alone is losing ice the size of the world’s biggest pyramid every 5 minutes(!). That’s not counting the rest of the Arctica and nothing of the Antarctica. We’re fighting wars motivated by personal gain rather than for humanitarian reasons and get modern slaves to produce our stuff. We kill 150bio animals per year. That’s 150 000 000 000. That’s the world’s human population times 20. Every year! We lose rainforest the size of Cologne (1mio people live there) every day. Every day! And it’s not coming back any time soon!



I made this infographic about environmental reasons to eat less meat. How can I make it better?



I think people need to support the environment, go vegan and y’know, not fucking rape each other, because it’s the sensible and right thing to do, not because a famous person tells them to.



So after 6 years of being together, my SO has finally decided to go vegan! (Hooray!) But while I’ve been doing it for ethical reasons, his main concern is environmental.



“Environmental, then health. Ethical plays a part, but not as large”.



“For me it was a combination of having food envy of what ever my wife ordered/cooked and then finally watched Cowspiracy. That was my tipping point when I decided no more. Feel a lot better/healthy and I no longer have a guilty conscious whenever I eat”.   



“I think the whole environmental viewpoint is doing a lot for the vegan movement.

People will always argue against the health benefits and will point out that plants have feelings to justify eating animals, but it’s hard to ignore the stuff related to climate change/water consumption/land use and every other environmental impact”.

Statement: environmental issues help the vegan community to grow.


Social Network Analysis

Data scraping & visualization

In order to make a good research on a hashtag #veganism in the USA, we picked a social network analysis software Gephi to analyze online discourse on Instagram.
Since our research question is: “What motivates people to become vegan?” we can see what hashtags people search for together with #veganism.

We searched for #veganism with 100 interactions and for a preview media, we used the thumbnail. Since one interaction gets 20 items, we got 1952 media items that were posted between 016-03-4 and 2016-03-15. In the Instagram case, nodes represent hashtags and edges the connections between them. That means that we got 7229 hashtags and 192593 connections between them.

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 8.03.40 amScreen Shot 2016-03-15 at 8.04.21 amScreen Shot 2016-03-15 at 8.05.50 amScreen Shot 2016-03-15 at 8.06.17 am
Hashtag #veganism reached 1812 counts, other hashtags which followed it were #vegan, #vegansofig, #veganfoodshare, #plantbased, #veganfood, #whatveganseat, #govegan, #crueltyfree, #veganlife, #healthy, #veganfoodporn, #vegansofinstagram, #vegetarian, #foodporn, #food, #veganlifestyle, #vegans, #vegangirl. #healthyfood, #love, #health, #rawvegan, #eatclean, #eatcleaning.
Also, after skimming through all hashtags we got an answer why actually people go vegan. According to Instagram hashtag explorer,  main reasons were animal rights and healthy lifestyle. For animal rights we got following hashtags: #crueltyfree, #animalrights, #veganfortheanimals, #animallover, #fitness, #organic, #raw, #plantpower, #nutrition, #HCLF (stands for high carb low fat), #healthy, health, #healthychoices, #workout.

By use of Gephi graph, we found out that our network is too big, so first we went for 10 interactions instead of 100 and it was still big.

With 5 interactions we finally got 854 hashtags and 16516 connections between them. Data laboratory looked this way.

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 2.14.47 pm

And Graph was still huge. Then we colored the nodes via a specific “Attribute and we picked “count”, so nodes were colored by their frequency. So, it is possible to see what nodes occur the most often (the darker the node, the more often it occurs).

For the layout, we used ForceAtlas 2 with Scaling 35.0 and Prevent Overlap.

In order to find out the main clusters we changed Range (count) settings to 14 – 96. Now it’s easy to see that #veganfood, #food, veganism, #veganfoodshare, #plantbased, #whatveganseat are the central hashtags. Other important clusters are: #veganlifestyle, #govegan, #vegansofinstagram, #foodporn, #foodie, #crueltyfree, #veganlife, #vegans, #healthy, #vegetarian, #healthyfood, and health.




This is a link for PDF  of this image.

final vegan


After zooming in we found some small clusters in this Graph. Most of the information we got on the graph were relevant to veganism trend, but not all of it. We got a cluster from #awesome with hashtags #instacool, #queen, #gayswithbeards and another one connected to #awesome with #darkchocolate, #eatingcarrots, #blueverries, #chia. Also, we got some hashtags in Russian language. Those were #финики, #перекусы, #чай, #вкуснополезно.

The most often occurred nodes were colored by their frequency. Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 9.28.27 am

Other clusters were related to veganism.Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 2.28.07 pm

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 2.25.59 pm


Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 2.27.25 pm

What was surprising we found out a cluster with #whatvegansdrink where was mostly included alcohol: #nightspot, #fun, #cocktail, #cognac, #rum.

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 2.27.36 pm

Also, we chose an option to see how nodes are connected to each other. That means that nodes are colored by the amount of edges/connections they have. The darker the node, the more connection it has.


The darkest nodes (nodes with most of connections) were vegan and veganism. Then were plantbased, vegansofg, veganfood, healthy and govegan. Less connected were vegan lifestyle, vegans, vegansofinstagram, veganlife, veganfoodporn, whatveganseat, crueltyfree, foodie, vegetarian and health.



We are students of International Communication and Media at the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht.

We created this blog in order to research a specific trend: Veganism in America. We chose this topic since in the last two years veganism became a very popular trend.  People go vegan for different reasons and we decided to find out what motivates them to go vegan. Vegans  don’t consume any animal based product. A strict vegan does not eat meat, fish, animal derived food like milk, eggs and honey. Also, vegans don’t buy animal-based clothes (What Does Vegan Mean).

Nowadays, it’s common to share your experience through blogs, forums, Instagram, Facebook and other social networks. These platforms give the best opportunity to find people from the same community and share experience about products.

To sum up, we focused our project on the research of Vegan trend in online communities such as forums, twitter, Instagram and blogs.

People who worked on the project:

Quincy Corneille 1618729

Anya Malyukova 1658572

Estibaliz Araujo   1693270

Itsaso Garin Erentxun 1693123


What Does Vegan Mean? (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2016, from


Research design and methodology

First, we used Google Trends to see how the online searches for the word “vegan” have grown in the last ten years (Rouse, 2013). This data analyzing method creates a clear graph that shows how often a particular search term is entered. We confirmed that “vegan” was a trend, particularly in 2015. Google Trends also gives the possibility to compare two search terms. We compared “vegan” and “vegetarian” and obtained interesting results.

Captura de pantalla (1008).png

Captura de pantalla (1007).png

Finally, Google Trends creates a map that told how popular are search terms in different countries. Vegan was more popular in The United States, Canada and Australia.

Captura de pantalla (1009).png

Before officially establishing veganism as our research topic, we searched for hashtags such as #vegan, #healthyvegan and #animalcruelty on social networks like Twitter and Instagram. We also find some vegan-related pages on facebook.That helps us to confirm that Veganism was a very popular topic on social media at that moment.

For our research, we used a methodology called Netnography. By using this method, we analysed data which we collected from certain online communities. Netnography is a good choice for our research topic since vegans are very active online. Hundreds of vegan blogs can be found on the internet (Rosen, 2014).

In order to collect data about the topic and answer our research question, we chose a community: The vegan Subreddit on the social network Reddit, a very active community which counts with the participation of people all over the world.

Inside this community, we analysed recent threads and discussions, as well as comments and answers, looking for remarks that suggested why those participants decided to go vegan. We searched for specific keywords among the community such as healthy, health, animal, animal cruelty, environment, society, animal rights, etc. We also actively participate in it by creating a post. Finally, we analysed the data we collected and tried to answer our research question based on the comments we had.

Besides Netnography, we used another method known as Social Network Analysis. There are two elements in a network, actors and the interactions between them. Social Network Analysis study this two elements. In our case, we analysed certain Instagram hashtags and how they were connected. To do this, we use an online tool called  Instagram Hashtag Explorer, which looks for given tags or locate posts in a specific area.


In order to organise the collected data, we used the tool Gephi. Gephi is an open-source and free network analysis software. This tool transforms data collected from social networks into clear graphs. This helps the analysts to organise the information for a better understanding of it. The user interacts with the graph by manipulating the structures, shapes and colors in order to expose hidden patterns (The Open Graph Viz Platform, 2008).

When information gathered by Instagram Hashtag explorer is loaded in Gephi, the software shows hashtags and connections in a graph. Nodes represent hashtags and edge  the connections between them.


Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 2.25.59 pm
Example of a Gephi graph from our own research



  1. Rouse, M. (2013, January). DEFINITION Google Trends. Retrieved February 29, 2016, from Contributor: Heather Darcy
  2. Rosen, E. (2014). Top 50 Vegan Blogs. Retrieved March 1, 2016, from . Institute For The Psychology of Eating
  3. Grandjean, M. (2015). GEPHI – Introduction to Network Analysis and Visualization. Retrieved March 20, 2016, from
  4. The Open Graph Viz Platform. (2008). Retrieved March 20, 2016, from


Research Planning

In order to look for and choose two online communities for our research, we used these search words and keywords: Vegan, veganism, receipts, healthy, lifestyle, vegan chat, vegan trend, vegan cooking, healthy vegan, no animal products, vegan lifestyle, vegan communities, activism, vegan kids, why vegan, vegan reasons, animal cruelty, strict vegetarianism. Additionally, we worked with some search queries such as vegan activism, how to be a vegan, vegan animal cruelty, vegan forums, vegan online communities, vegan healthy lifestyle, advice for vegans, advice for vegans, easy cooking for vegans, how to be vegan and vegans around the world.

We were searching for communities such as blogs, forums, and facebook pages. While we found blogs and facebook pages quite inactive regarding comments and participation, forums and sites like Reddit were more active and full of new threads and comments. We came across with an online community that could provide us with the needed data to answer our research question “What motivates people to become vegan?”.

The community was the Vegan subreddit.  At the bottom right of the page, we can find categories such as “environment”, “health” and “activism” that are directly related to our research question.

Captura vvv

It’s a very active website with a lot of participants; new threads are created almost every hour.  For example, the 28th of February 2016  90 threads were created and 62 the 26th. Most of the posts get 5-25 comments, and usually, there was, at least, one post per day that receives more than 100 replies. That means that it’s also an interactive community, as Reddit is a social network based on interactions, discussion and exchanges of opinion between members.

active 8active 9active 6active 10active 7active 5active 11active 1active 2active 4

As it’s a general subreddit, people of all over the world contribute to the community, providing a great range of opinions and statements. Some countries have their own vegan subreddit (Australia, UK, Canada, The Netherlands), but they are not as active as the general one.

Before entering this community, we considered another community, Veggiboards. This forum wasn’t active enough for our research, but we found an interesting article related to our research question. The essay’s title is “Great reasons to go vegetarian” and lists  6 reasons to go vegetarian. Although our research topic is veganism, we found this article interesting, as reasons to go vegetarian could be similar to reasons to become vegan. These 6 are; protect animal welfare, save money,  conserve resources & protect the planet, stay healthier and avoid food poisoning and food borne illness. After exploring the vegan subreddit, we find out that the main motives among the member were health, environmental concerns and animal cruelty (ethical reasons).


Our role as ethnographers was the active observer. Our purpose was to research a vegan community and understand vegan’s behavior, practices and beliefs while we actively participate creating posts and interacting with other participants. We did this in order to understand why people, particularly those who participate in this community, decided to become vegans.

In order to carry out our research, we needed to be accepted in the vegan community by identifying ourselves and informing about the research. We created a post on  Reddit so we could get real experiences and more specific data for our research.

reddit post.PNG

Aaa lot of people have already asked what motivates people to go vegan to this community.  For example, we found this thread that encourages people to share their experience as a vegan.

experience as a vegan

We observed and analyzed recent threads, comments and posts to find statements, words, and expressions that suggested why did they become vegan. We read a post from the 2oth of February to the 1st of march. We also read older posts to see what were the topic months ago. 

After reading several threads in the community, we realized some topics were more discussed than others. Animal cruelty was by far the most popular topic. Mostly these posts aim was to raise awareness of animal cruelty in our society and try to encourage people to become vegan.  Besides, tips for a vegan lifestyle were also common. Those threads include from vegans looking for advice on vegan food to people with parents not willing them to be vegan asking for help.

Data Collection

Netnography 100 Comments Coding



Data analysis

Categories Answers to our posts Archive Recent threads
Ethics (political & animal rights) “Veganism is animal rights”


“Living in accordance with an ethical stance against the exploitation and killing of animals”


“I’m really passionate about animal welfare”


Health “I want to promote veganism and a healthy lifestyle ”


“I look and feel so much healthier and I have a lot more energy.”


“I originally just wanted to loose weight. But now I’ve learnt vegan diet has so much more too offer.”


Environment “I truly believe at some point wars will be fought over water…”.


“Supposed environmentalist LEADERS pretending (I would think) to know NOTHING about how animal agriculture affects the environment”.


 “his main concern is environmental.”



ETHICS 8 (%80) 1
HEALTH 1 (%10) 3


ETHICS 17 (%68)
HEALTH 2 (%8) 2


ETHICS 35 (%54.69) 5
HEALTH 18 (%28.12) 3
ENVIRONMENT 11 (%17.18) 2


ETHICS 60 (%53.85) 6
HEALTH 21 (%27.69) 8
ENVIRONMENT 19 (%18.46) 5


Conclusion and recommendation

This research examined the motivations of people to become Vegan using opinions and interactions between participants in an online community called The Vegan Subreddit in the social network Reddit.  On one hand, we examined comments and interactions between participants in various threads. On the other hands, we created a post asking users why did become vegan. After the search, we had 100 comments from Reddit user that suggested or directly confess what were their motivations to adopt a vegan lifestyle.

The analysis of answers to the thread we shared on the Vegan community revealed that there were three main reasons for participants to change their diet radically. Those were ethical reasons (people against animal cruelty), heath and environmental concerns. 8 out of 10 comments claimed that their main reason to become vegan was not wanting to harm animals. Moreover, there were secondary reasons as well. 3 participants’ comments suggested that their secondary reason was health improvement.

This same pattern was repeated in the rest of the comments left in threads from the 2oth of February to the 1st of march. %54.69 of the users’ motives to go vegan were related to ethics. Health was the second most popular main reason for participants. However, the most repeated secondary reasons were also ethics and morals.

From older comments dated before the 20th of February,  only the %8  claim that they become vegan for health. Hence, nowadays the amount of individuals who go vegan in order to improve their health has grown. This could be due to veganism getting fame for being a healthy diet rather than an ethical lifestyle.

Overall, although health and environmental motives were popular among participants, %53.85 of the users claimed or suggested that they became because of ethical reasons. Besides, health was the most repeated secondary reason.

All in all, we could say that after analysing the data we collected on the Vegan Subreddit, we could answer our research question. Although there were three main motives for users to go vegan (environmental concerns, living a healthy lifestyle and ethical reasons), one of them stood out.among others. In fact, %53.85 of the comments we got were related to the defence of animal rights . Most of the participants denounced the violence and torture in animal agriculture and additionally mention that their secondary reasons were health or the preservation of the environment.


Research Proposal

Introduction to the trend

Veganism has been around for thousands of years. Earliest cases  have been dated back since 500 BCE, for example, Pythagoras followed the vegetarian lifestyle. Another example of vegetarian innovator was Buddha.

The earliest concepts of veganism took shape by the hands of Dr William Lambe and Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1806 CE (History).

In the US has been a massive growth of veganism since 2009. Nowadays, about 5 % of US population are living a vegan lifestyle. Of all vegans and vegetarians, the majority are women. Searches for the term “vegan 2007” showed over 1,600 results, however, nowadays “vegan 2015” showed 116 million results (16 Million People in the US are Now Vegan or Vegetarian).
Veganism is usually associated with people who are up for animal rights, the health and the religious.

However, nowadays, people also go part-time vegetarian. Some of them get inspired by famous people such as Bill Gates, Bill Clinton and James Cameron. There are two main reasons  —health concerns, and greater awareness of how animals are treated. The third one which is not that popular is the environmental reason, for instance, global warming and deforestation (Barford, 2014) . Vegans don’t eat eggs, dairy products, meat and fish.

Recently, consumers went to the importance of healthier and more humane foods. Therefore, this change can be seen in the market for non-diary products. The lately non-diary products market soared and sales are expected to reach $5 Billion by 2020; more than 1/3 of consumers are open to plant-based products (Sentenac, 2015).

“Almost a third of Millennials (30%) indicate they consume any meat alternative product every day, with 70% consuming them, at least, a few times a week, notably more than any other generation, and coupled with the size and spending power of Millennials, indicates a strong potential market for meat alternatives in the future,” wrote Billy Roberts, Senior Food and Drink  (Plant-Based Food Named a Top Trend for 2016 | Latest Vegan News, 2015).

According to Google trends first time as a trend #vegan appeared in January 2004 and slightly increased until January 2014 where it skyrocketed. In January 2016, it reached it highest point. Most of the researching go from USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Literature review

Platform: Google Scholar

Rasmus R. Simonsen Interview

After some in depth research about the matter “veganism” through means of reading academic articles. We found out the following, veganism is more than just a diet or even a lifestyle. People become vegan because of the political viewing point. People become vegan to express their political viewing point(s) towards consumption and mistreating of other species. According to Rasmus R. Simonsen, veganism is seen by a lot of people as the way to interfere with the material and ideological structures of the meat consumption process which is a huge part of our lives. This is one very interesting side of the trend “Veganism”, some people become vegan for health reasons, or pity for the animals, but to others becoming a vegan has a political goal attached to it. This information is taken from an interview with Rasmus R Simonsen, (ph.D) in Animal Studies Repository, about his selected works by Massimo Filippi and Marco Reggio.
(Reggio, 2014)

Veganism: the Humane Solution to Human Misdeeds

From another academic article, “Veganism, the humane solution to human misdeeds”, the following information has been retrieved. This article focussed mainly on the environmental influence of the meat consumption business. Just like the popular Netflix documentary “Cowspiracy”, this article addresses the serious pollution meat consumption causes. Another reason for joining the veganism trend nowadays next to animal cruelty is the environment. Mankind has evolved from cavemen into a “superior” species, at least, that is how we view ourselves. With a fast-rising population, the food had to grow with us. Farming became factory farming. The outcomes are poor health and pollution. The meat is injected with antibiotics creating resistant diseases. The cattle eat more food than it produces, plus the biological waste is enormous creating entire dead zones without life in the oceans. In this article Veganism is perceived as a way of saving the planet from downfall. This is a very concerning topic, and understandable for drawing attention towards itself.

The academic article has been written by Dennis Brooks. Brooks used a lot of desk research to find the information which supports his article. Information has been gained from websites, and books. The references were the following:

Platform: HU Library

A case for ethical veganism

The source “A case for ethical veganism” is a thesis written by a researcher to show it is wrong to consume animal products. The thesis focusses on showing this to the reader, as well as showing animal cruelty to convince/ persuade the reader to share the researchers cause, namely becoming vegan.(McPherson, 2014)

Revised healthy lifestyle

Revised healthy lifestyle is a research paper concerning a healthy lifestyle for schoolchildren (especially with obesity and iron deficiency). A lot of children today deal with obesity and iron deficiency resulting from eating junk food and eating other unhealthy products. The study tests different diets to search for a healthy lifestyle to prevent these diseases with children. Especially obesity is a direct effect of too much animal consumption. Studying the research paper showed that becoming vegan can help you live healthier and evade problems like obesity. (Y. Manios, 2013)

From beef to beans

To create more in-depth knowledge of the healthy lifestyle a.k.a. the vegan lifestyle the research paper “from beef to beans” was read. The goal of the study is to find out how and why people change their diets and eating motives. The researchers analysed existing surveys of the (adult) population of Finland. The study showed that most motives for people to change from a beef diet to a plant based diet, is weight related (like the study above “revised healthy lifestyle” showed, this is a big problem. (Vainio, 2015)


Vegan, Punk, Animal rights, Cultural movement, Social network, Social movement, Veganism, Diet, Healthy lifestyle, Cowspiracy, #GoVegan, Fruitarian, Herbivorous, Humane, #AllLivesMatter, Vegan study, Veganism trend research, Veganism and culture,Trend Veganism USA, Plant-eating, Ethical veganism, Animal ethics, applied ethics, methodology in ethics
Online research aspect of the background research


vegan, veganism, diet, healthy lifestyle, cowspiracy, #govegan, fruitarian, herbivorous, humane, #alllivesmatter, vegan study, “veganism trend” research, “veganism and culture” trend, plant-eating, ethical veganism, animal ethics, applied ethics, methodology in ethics

According to tweets with hashtags #vegan and #veganism recent phenomenon included news about vegan diet and recipes. Another trend were tweets about animal rights. For example, fashion revolution wear #vegan.

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 12.48.56 pmScreen Shot 2016-03-16 at 12.45.31 pmScreen Shot 2016-03-16 at 12.44.52 pm

After we did a research on some vegan blogs, we found out that Vegan food also changes every year and becomes more different and less boring. That stimulates people to go vegan since it does not forbid favourite food anymore. For example, in 2015 the main trend was a vegan pizza (Williamson, 2015).

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 4.48.00 pm


Sources Literature Review APA:

16 Million People in the US are Now Vegan or Vegetarian! • The Raw Food World News. (2015). Retrieved February 24, 2016, from

Barford, V. (2014, February 14). The rise of the part-time vegans – BBC News. Retrieved March 25, 2016, from

McPherson, T. (2014). HU Library pdf full text. Opgehaald van HU Library:

Manios, G. M. (2013). HU Library full pdf. Opgehaald van HU Library:

Sentenac, H. (2015, December 31). Plant-Based Food Named a Top Trend for 2016. Retrieved March 25, 2016, from

Vainio, A. N. (2015). HU Library full pdf. Opgehaald van HU Library:

Williamson, B. (2015, February 12). 2015 Food Trend: The Rise of the Vegan Pizza. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from

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