one who travels indefinitely, with no long-term abode, while avoiding all forms of animal exploitation and abuse as far as is possible and practicable
early 21st century; from vegan - ‘a person who does not eat or use animal products’, and nomad - ‘a person who does not stay long in the same place’
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Why People Go Vegan: 2019 Global Survey Results
23 min read
The original incentive for conducting this large international survey was to see the most common motivation for people to become vegan, thinking that this would help vegan activists be more effective in their work. However, as the results below make clear, the survey ended up answering, and raising, many other interesting questions about the growing vegan movement.
Our previous survey was taken by only 726 people in 2016 and was restricted in size partly because we limited the responses to those in Australia. This time we wanted to see how the responses from a larger international data-base would compare, so we did it in with the goal of getting a more global response.
This survey was initially shared on the 18th of October 2018 via email to all the members of the Vomad Insider Community. We then shared it publicly on the Vomad Facebook page a few days later, as well as on our Instagram. The last response came on the 30th of December 2018 or 73 days later, on the last day of the year.
In total there was 12,814 participants from 97 different countries - or an average of 175 people completing the survey every day it was live - which is almost 20x the number of responses as our last survey from three years ago.
Topics covered in the 2019 Global Vegan Survey include why and how people became vegan, their primary internal motivations as well as how they actually went about it, and, in terms of actually turning people vegan, which documentaries, books, social media posts, online videos, blogs, print magazines, public speakers and other forms of activism were the most influential.
Before you start reading these results and more just below, you should know that we encourage everyone to not only scroll through the stats and think about what they mean, but also to share your thoughts and interpretations with us in the comments at the bottom. It was due to critical feedback from the last survey that allowed us to make this one better.
This survey was designed to dig deep and isolate the core motivations responsible for making people seriously consider choosing a vegan lifestyle, however, The 2019 Global Vegan Survey ended up as something much greater that will hopefully help activists, organisations and the vegan community at large continue to advocate for veganism in the most effective way we know how to.
44.4% or 369 people succesfully took part in Veganuary, making it the most popular vegan challenge among participants.
20.1% or 167 people successfully did Challenge 22+.
10.8% or 90 people successfully did Vegan Easy 30 Day Challenge.
24.7% or 205 people chose "Other" which included PCRM's 21 Day Vegan Kickstart, Vegaanihaaste, Lent, Vegan Reset, the plant-based challenge promoted by Beyonce and Jay- Z, a lot of different personal challenges people set for themselves and more.
When asked "How did you hear about the challenge?"...
61.7% or 513 people said they heard about the vegan challenge that turned them vegan on social media.
17.3% or 144 were recommended it by a friend or family member.
12.9% or 107 people found it through their own research.
4.9% or 41 people said "Other" which included recommendations mainly from watching documentaries and various activists on social media.
Public activism resulted in 3.1% or 26 of the survey participants successfully taking a vegan challenge.
98.7% or 820 people said they would recommend the challenge they took to a friend. So I would feel comfortable recommending any of the top 3 most popular vegan challenges - Veganuary, Challenge 22+ and Vegan Easy 30 Day Challenge - which collectively made up 75.3% of all challenges taken.
The most influential vegan documentary was What the Health (2017) which made 26.2% or 737 people first want to go vegan.
24.6% or 692 people first wanted to go vegan after watching Cowspiracy (2014).
22.2% or 623 people first wanted to go vegan after watching Earthlings (2005).
12.5% or 350 people first wanted to go vegan after watching Forks Over Knives (2011).
14.5% or 406 people chose "Other" which included...
1.8% or 53 people that said Vegucated (2009) was the film that first made them want to be vegan.
1.4% or 42 people said it was after watching Dominion (2018).
1.1% or 34 people said Food Inc (2008).
1.1% or 32 people said Food Choices (2016).
0.9% or 28 people said Land of Hope and Glory (2017).
0.4% or 11 people said Lucent (2014).
When asked how they became aware of this documentary...
35% or 982 people said they came across the documentary that first made them interested in veganism on Netflix.
28.8% or 808 people said it was recommended to them by a friend or family member.
21% or 591 people said they came across it on any social media platform other than YouTube.
7.9% or 221 people said they came across it on YouTube.
7.3% or 206 people chose "Other" which mostly included seeing it on TV (19 people), being recommended it by an activist (16 people) and showing the film at school (14 people), although there were a lot of unique ways people found out about it, with someone even winning a copy of Cowspiracy "in a raffle".
19.8% or 87 people were influenced to go vegan after reading The China Study by T. Colin Campbell PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II MD.
16.6% or 73 people were influenced to go vegan after reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.
14.3% or 63 people were influenced to go vegan after reading Animal Liberation by Peter Singer.
13.2% or 58 people were influenced to go vegan after reading Skinny Bitch by Kim Barnouin.
10% or 44 people were influenced to go vegan after reading Diet for a New America by John Robbins.
8.9% or 39 people were influenced to go vegan after reading How Not to Die by Michael Greger.
2.3% or 10 people were influenced to go vegan after reading The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan.
2% or 9 people were influenced to go vegan after reading The Starch Solution by John McDougall.
13% or 57 people said "Other" which included Meatonomics by David Robinson Simon, Proteinaholic by Howard Jacobson, The McDougall Plan and the books of other vegan or plant-based doctors and athletes as well as yoga books and religious texts.
When asked how they became aware of this book...
24.8% or 111 people were recommended it by a friend or family member.
18.5% or 83 people came across it at a book store or on Amazon or Kindle.
4.3% or 20 people found the book in a library.
2% or 9 people were recommended the book by an activist.
38.6% or 170 people chose "Other" which mostly included "I forgot" and coming across it on YouTube.
The largest group was the 17.6% or 324 people who didn't remember the video's name.
16.9% or 311 people said it was because of a Gary Yourofsky speech.
15.5% or 286 people said it was "graphic footage of animal farming and / or slaughter".
7.3% or 135 people said it was from watching Freelee the Banana Girl videos.
5.2% or 96 people said it was the video 101 Reasons to Go Vegan.
2.6% or 47 people said it was from watching a James Aspey speech.
2.6% or 47 people also said it was from watching the YouTube video Dairy is Scary by Erin Janus.
2% or 36 people said it was from watching Earthling Ed street interviews, while Earthling Ed's speech accounted for an additional 1.4% or 26 people's motivation.
1.1% or 20 people said it was from watching videos put out by PETA.
27.9% or 513 people chose "Other" which included Vegan Gains YouTube videos (17 people), Mic the Vegan's YouTube videos (17 people), Joey Carbstrong's videos (16 people), That Vegan Couple's videos (15 people), Ellen Fisher's videos (14 people), YouTuber Kalel's "Why I'm vegan" video that has since been taken down (13 people), Phillip Wollen's "Animals should be off the menu" debate speech (10 people), Bite Size Vegan's YouTube videos (7 people), Happy Healthy Vegan's YouTube videos (7 people), Durianrider videos (6 people), Unnatural Vegan videos (6 people), as well as the trailers to full-length vegan films (3 people) and more.
When asked how they became aware of the video...
41.7% or 767 people came across the video that made them interested or convinced to go vegan on YouTube.
34.1% or 627 people came across it on another social media platform other than YouTube.
9.8% or 180 people were recommended it by a friend or a family member.
6.8% or 125 people didn't remember how they became aware of it.
1.7% or 31 people were recommended the video by a public activist, and another 0.3% or 5 people said it was on the leaflet the activist gave them...
5.8% or 106 people chose "Other" which mostly included searching online, as well as news websites, animal charities websites and more.
When asked on which platform they watched the video...
65.7% or 1209 people watched the video clip that made them interested or convinced to go vegan on YouTube.
22.5% or 414 people watched the video clip that made them interested or convinced to go vegan on Facebook.
4.9% or 90 people said they didn't remember where they watched it.
3.3% or 61 people said they watched it on some "other website".
1.4% or 35 people watched it on Instagram.
0.9% or 16 people watched it on Netflix.
0.1% or 2 people said they watched it on Twitter...
1.4% or 26 people chose "Other" which mostly included watching it on DVD.
The majority of people, 59.3% or 337 people, said they did not remember which website they read the article or blog on.
7.7% or 44 people said the article or blog they first read that got them interested or convinced to go vegan was from a personal blogger.
6.5% or 37 people said it was a PETA article or blog post that first sparked their interest or convinced them to go vegan.
4.6% or 26 people said it was an article or blog on a non-vegan news platform like News.com.au that first got them interested or convinced to go vegan.
Plant Based News blogs or article were responsible for 10 people (1.8%) first being interested or convinced to go vegan, Live Kindly blogs / articles made 5 people (0.9%), and it's because of VegNews articles and blog posts that 3 people (0.5%) were first interested or convinced to be vegan.
16.5% or 94 people chose "Other" which included a range of different charities, newspapers and websites.
When asked what topics were covered in the blog or article...
45.8% or 443 people said "Ethics for the animals".
20.5% or 38 people said encountering an activist handing out leaflets was the first thing that made them seriously consider going vegan.
18.9% or 35 people said the type of public activism that first made them interested in or convinced to go vegan was an Anonymous for the Voiceless Cube of Truth event. Although, because of the less descriptive wording in the two most popular options it's possible that an Anonymous for the Voiceless event (where leaflets are also handed out) actually accounted for more than represented here.
17.3% or 32 people were first interested in or convinced to go vegan because of an animal rights protest or march.
8.6% or 16 people was due to talking to an activist on the street other than an Anonymous for the Voiceless event.
7% or 13 people did not remember what kind of public activism it was.
4.9% or 9 people said the Earthlings Experience made them interested in or seriously consider going vegan first.
1.6% or 3 people said it was a disruption at a public place, restaurant, shop, mall etc in the vein of DXE: Direct Action Everywhere that first made them interested in or seriously consider going vegan. 1.6% or 3 people also said the same thing about The Save Movement.
19.5% or 36 people chose "Other" which mostly included the work of the Animal Liberation Front as well as festivals, friends, sanctuaries and more.
24.4% or 42 people said the first thing that made them seriously consider going vegan was a speech or lecture held at their university or college.
16.3% or 28 people said it was from a speech at another "social club".
5.8% or 10 people said the speech or lecture that first made them interested in or convinced to go vegan was held at a vegan festival.
5.8% or 10 people also said they heard the speech at a "conference." Although, due to less descriptive wording in the two answers, and lack of description from some participants, "conference" and "vegan festival" may have been used somewhat interchangeably.
5.2% or 9 people said the speech or lecture was held at their primary or high school.
2.9% or 5 people said at their workplace held the talk. Although, due to less specific wording in the answers, "conference" and "work" may have been used interchangeably.
39.5% or 68 people chose "Other" which included yoga schools, church, animals sanctuaries, TEDx talks, Tony Robbins events and more.
When asked "What topics were covered in the speech or lecture?"...
41% or 126 people said "Ethics for the animals".
31% or 95 people said "Health"
28% or 86 people said "Environment".
(Multiple answers were allowed.)
76.7% or 132 people answered the optional question of "Who was the speaker?" and James Aspey appeared to be the most influential vegan speaker, turning 9 participants vegan, followed by Gary Yourofsky and Phillip Wollen with 5 people each. Other speakers with more than one vote included Dr Melanie Joy (3 people), Tony Robbins (3 people), Dr Michael Greger (2 people) and Joey Carbstrong (2 people).
There were 12,814 vegan participants from 97 countries, but 74.3% of those were from Australia, the UK, the US, Canada and New Zealand.
81.9% or 10,494 participants were female.
56.9% or 7,292 people were between 18 and 34 years old.
68.1% or 8,729 participants went vegan for the animals.
79.8% or 10,227 people went vegan in the last 5 years.
50.6% or 6,841 people went vegan overnight.
More survey participants became vegan after watching a feature-length documentary than by any other means.
In terms of turning people vegan, What The Health (2017) was the most influential documentary.
In terms of turning people vegan, The China Study by T. Colin Campbell PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II MD was the most influential book.
In terms of turning people vegan, Gary Yourofsky appeared to have the most influential video clips online.
In terms of turning people vegan, Veganuary was the most popular and influential "vegan challenge".
In terms of turning people vegan, activists handing out leaflets appeared to be the most influential form of public activism.
In terms of turning people vegan, James Aspey appeared to be the most influential public speaker.
50.5% of participants or 6,476 people said they had convinced someone else to be vegan, and 31.8% of those said they did it by "having a conversation with them", making it the most popular option, followed by 22.9% who did it by "showing them great vegan food". Although interestingly, when asked "In your opinion, what is the most effective way to influence or convince people to go vegan?", 28.1% said "show them great vegan food" making it the most popular option, followed by 18.6% who chose "initiate conversations".
Want more? Click here to view the anonymised raw data for this survey in a Google sheet.
The creators of this survey (VomadLife.com / Vomad.Life) are no in way affiliated with any other individuals or organisations mentioned in the survey.
This survey is biased towards English language speakers, as the survey was only shared in English. This could help further explain why 75% of all survey participants came from Australia, the UK, the US, Canada and New Zealand.
While Australia undoubtedly has some very committed and influential vegan activists, more survey participants were Australian than any other nationality (22.5%) which could further explain any trend in popularity towards Australian vegan activists.
Any bias towards online methods of activism could be explained by the fact that survey was conducted online and shared almost exclusively through social media.
See my notes here for a thorough discussion on the apparent lack of effectiveness of public activism represented in this survey (1.4% of participants first seriously considered going vegan a result of public activism).
In the next survey we conduct, the wording of multiple questions will be improved for clarity, we will try to remove any suggestions to possible future answers in questions, we will try to avoid naming organisations to avoid influencing responses and the project will be larger in scope and reach.
Thank you to all 12,814 vegans who took part in this survey!
...and everyone who shared the link around social media to get more participants.