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).

Entrée

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.”

 

ANSWERS TO OUR POST

CATEGORIES MAIN REASON SECONDARY REASONS
ETHICS 8 (%80) 1
HEALTH 1 (%10) 3
ENVIRONMENT 1 (%10)

ARCHIVE

CATEGORIES MAIN REASON SECONDARY REASONS
ETHICS 17 (%68)
HEALTH 2 (%8) 2
ENVIRONMENT 7 (%24) 3

RECENT THREADS

CATEGORIES MAIN REASON SECONDARY REASONS
ETHICS 35 (%54.69) 5
HEALTH 18 (%28.12) 3
ENVIRONMENT 11 (%17.18) 2

ALL

CATEGORIES MAIN REASON SECONDARY REASONS
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.

 

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