Why Most People Go Vegan: 2016 Survey Results Revealed

Update: The 2019 Global Survey on Why People Go Vegan with over 12,000 participants from 97 countries is out now.

Click here to view it

A while ago, I became very curious about what persuaded vegans to be vegans! But unfortunately, doing a Google or a web search didn’t get me any clear or up to date answers.

I thought why not find out for myself, and who’s better to ask for answers than vegans themselves. So I created a survey aimed at vegans living in Australia and I added all the questions that I was curious about. I created the survey hoping that it will also:

  • Provide information for everyone else about the best ways to spread veganism and on how to get people’s attention and interest on the matter; and
  • Inspire animal rights and vegan organisations to do larger and better surveys like the one I’ve created.

I believe that the more research done and the more information we have, the easier it is for us to emulate what is working and eliminate what is not. After all, It is our duty to spread veganism and get the interest of others in the best way we can. I am hoping that the information in this article will help you do just that.

But before you start reading the results, I encourage you to not only scroll through the stats but to also think about what they mean and to also share your opinion and ideas with everyone else.

*A summary of the survey is provided at the end of the blog
for those who wish to skip reading the whole article.

About the survey:

  • Taken by 726 participants
  • All living in Australia
  • All Vegans

The Gender

 About 80% of vegans are females. Quoting Benjamin's book Irreversibly Vegan:

“... women are more in touch with their sense of compassion than men. It's seen as unmanly a lot of the time in western culture to show any emotion, let alone be seen as someone who is emotionally effected by the gross abuse of the rights of animals, so it can be harder for men to want to make the transition for fear of losing that part of their identity. But men still have that compassion there; it's just a matter of getting in touch with it again, like we were when we were younger.”

The Age Range

  • 80% of vegans were under 40.
  • 20% were 40+.

The Main Reason People Go Vegan

The majority turned vegan for the animals. I highly recommend reading this article by Ben Frost on why we should always keep morality as the core of veganism to protect it from being just a "faddy diet" or a "trend".

Diet prior to Being Vegan


It isn't surprising that vegetarians are more likely to transition to veganism than meat eaters. The survey shows that almost half of the participants were vegetarians before going vegan.

I believe that we should talk to more vegetarians rather than directing all of our focus, time and energy on advocating veganism to meat eaters. Let’s also show vegetarians how easy and awesome it is to be vegan. Let’s show them facts and information that they may not have been aware of before, and most importantly let’s stop judging and mocking them for not being “moral enough” which is sadly what some people do.

How Long Have you Been Vegan for?


  •  88% of participants turned vegan less than 5 years ago.

 This is one of my favourite stats in the survey for the obvious reason that we all already know: the very notable rapid growth of veganism in recent years. It’s an awesome thing to see and be part of.

Transitioning to Vegan

Before becoming vegans:

I believe that the ultimate motivation of transitioning and staying vegan forever and never having a single thought about coming back to your old lifestyle is when you immerse yourself with as much information about veganism as you can, especially from a moral standpoint.

If you or anyone you know is new to veganism or have been thinking of going vegan but still have doubts or have been struggling to make the transition in any form whatsoever then I highly recommend checking out Ben's book "Irreversibly Vegan".

What was the First Thing that got you Interested in Veganism?

  • 37% were influenced by a friend or family.
  • 28% from the internet and social media (reading online articles, Instagram posts, Facebook and watching YouTube videos)
  • 19% from watching a documentary
  • 12% self-motivated
  • 4% from reading a book
  • Only 2.5% from public activism (A surprising stat?!)
  • The remaining 9% includes university lectures, diet challenges and non-for profit adverts.

Documentaries that got people interested / influenced to go vegan:

  • Earthlings (35%)
  • Cowspiracy (32%)
  • Forks Over knives (12%)
  • Others include Blackfish, Vegucated, Lucent and Food Inc. 

Books that got people interested / influenced to go vegan:

  • These include The China study, Animal liberation, The great compassion, Eat to Live, How not to die, The ethics of what we eat, Finding Ultra, Sexual politics of meat, The world peace diet, skinny bitch, Fit for Life, Ethical eating and Proteinaholic.

Videos that got people interested / influenced to go vegan:

These include:

  • Gary Yourofsky’s Best Speech You will ever hear (most mentioned by far)
  • Videos by Dr. Michael Greger, James Aspey and Ted Talks.
  • Dairy is F***ing Scary and 101 reasons to go vegan.
  • Videos showing animal abuse.
  • Other random YouTube videos.

Videos, social media posts and online articles are an effective way to spread Veganism. If you spend a portion of your time using social media, make sure to share a few of those vegan posts, videos and articles.

Public Activism

Out of all the participants, Only 2.5% said they were influenced by public activism. The majority of them reported that leaflets and talking to activists in the street were what got them interested.

Only one person said that protesters chanting slogans in public was what got them interested in Veganism. 

Have you ever influenced or convinced someone to go vegan?

Approximately 60% of participants said that they have influenced or convinced someone to go vegan.

How do you influence or convince some one to go vegan?

The survey shows that the most effective way to spread veganism is through influencing others around us.

Luckily, in the same survey, I have asked some open questions to find out how. These questions were directed at those:

  • Those who have successfully influenced or convinced a friend or family to go vegan,
  • Those who have been influenced or convinced by a friend or a family member to go vegan; and
  • All participants about their opinion of the best way to get people interested in veganism

There were more than 1000 written responses to those questions.

Remarkably, almost all the responses had similar words and phrases and the same experience and advice. So how did they do it? Here are the majority of the answers summarised:

  • Lead By Example.
  • Show them (cook food, take them places, recommend them videos, documentaries and books, ect). Simply show them.
  • Don’t be Pushy.
  • When asked, gently say facts and use logic.
  • Don’t tell them what to do.
  • Provide information and recommend them to explore it further.
  • Be passionate and proud.

To anyone interested in seeing how all this information relates specifically to the most effective way to transition to a vegan lifestyle - and stay there forever - check out Benjamin's new book Irreversibly Vegan as it lays out in plain English the whole deal, as well as practical, actionable steps to influencing and convincing others to go vegan as well.

Survey Main points summarised:

  • Taken by 726 vegans living in Australia.
  • 80% of vegans are females
  • 80% of vegans are under 40
  • The main reason people go vegan is ethics for the animals.
  • Approximately 50% of vegans were already vegetarians before going vegan.
  • 88% of the vegans participated have been vegan for less than 5 years.
  • 37% were influenced to go vegan by a friend or a family member, 28% from the Internet and social media and only 2.5% from public activism.
  • Earthlings and Cowspiracy are the two most influential documentaries in making people go vegan.
  • “The best speech you will ever hear” by Gary Yourofsky was the most influential YouTube video in making people go vegan.
  • Talking to activists in the streets and receiving leaflets was the most effective form of public activism.
  • 60% of participants said they have influenced or convinced someone to go vegan.
  • The majority of people who were influenced by someone or have influenced someone to go vegan said very similar things about their experience, their advice was:
    • Lead by example, show them, cook for them, take them to places, be gentle, don’t be pushy, tell facts and use logic, provide information and recommendations and don’t tell them what to do.

I want to say a big thank you to all 726 vegans who took part in this survey to help with the greater good!

Did you find the survey interesting? Did you learn something new that you didn’t already know? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas about these results in the comments below.

If you liked this article, then hit one of the share buttons on the left side below to let your friends and others know.


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