Vegans Are Happier Than Meat Eaters, New Survey Finds

Just in case you need another reason to go plant-based!

man with avocado eyes

Getty Images / Alexander Spatari

Vegans have long been portrayed as an angry, self-righteous group of individuals, but a new survey of 11,537 people across the United States is doing away with that stereotype. Surveyors from Tracking Happiness found that vegans are in fact happier than meat eaters, putting themselves at 7.27 on a scale from 1 to 10 in terms of personal happiness. Meat eaters, by contrast, have an average happiness rating of 6.80, making for a 7% difference.

Furthermore, happy people are more likely to become vegan in the future. The survey found that, out of the 8,988 meat eaters surveyed, "those who reported higher happiness ratings were more likely to adopt a 100% plant-based diet in the future." Such transitions tend to occur earlier in life, however; older people are less likely ever to adopt a vegan diet, as they've become accustomed to a certain way of eating.

"It’s no wonder vegans are happier," said Mimi Bekhechi, vice-president of PETA International Programmes, in response to the study findings. "By sparing animals atrocious suffering, helping to save the planet, and improving their own health, vegans can enjoy peace of mind and a clean conscience."

dietary happiness ratings
Tracking Happiness

It is interesting to see people's motives for choosing veganism or vegetarianism. Roughly a third (32%) does it for the environment, followed by personal preference, and then animal cruelty. Those who do it for environmental reasons report the greatest happiness, with an average happiness rating of 7.72. People that are vegan in order to counter animal cruelty are the least happy, with an average rating of 6.77. Perhaps they feel more afflicted by animals' suffering.

The surveyors say it's hard to gauge whether or not the world is becoming more accepting of plant-based eating, since Google searches for veganism have plateaued in the last four years and the word "vegan" is an extremely popular search term; but it does appear to be happening. From the writeup:

"Given our study results, it can be said that the world is slowly becoming more accepting of veganism. We say that because the age of our survey respondents was inversely correlated with their likelihood to go vegan in the future. In other words, young people consider themselves more likely to adopt a plant-based diet in the future. Based on these results, it can be assumed that the world will become more vegan as people slowly age and make room for new generations."

That being said, meat-eating is at an all-time high and its production continues to rise in the US without showing any signs of slowing down. This is unfortunate, given the urgency with which we must all curb consumption of animal products for environmental reasons. Animal agriculture is responsible for a huge chunk of global greenhouse gas emissions, water usage and contamination, rising antibiotic resistance, and the spread of disease. A number of documentary films over the past decade have raised the alarm about this issue and spurred many viewers to embrace plant-based eating. 

dietary choices
Tracking Happiness

Francine Jordan, the spokesperson for the Vegan Society, said her organization is not surprised by the findings. "We know that the image of veganism is undergoing the most radical change in its history, while shedding some tired, old stereotypes," said Jordan. "It’s no longer portrayed as an unusual lifestyle; it’s easy and accessible. You can walk into any supermarket and be greeted by a huge range of plant-based products or walk into any restaurant and be presented with an exciting vegan menu. There has never been a better time to be vegan and it’s great to see that vegans are much happier, too!"

Ditching the meat and dairy may seem daunting to some, but hopefully knowing it's linked to greater happiness will encourage hesitant individuals to take the plunge. 

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