Research & Policy Update 19/10/20 | The Vegan Society

Research & Policy Update 19/10/20

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Recent research and policy publications round-up 19th October 2020


Understanding the Relationship of Vegetarian Subjective Well-Being from the Nature-Connectedness Perspective of University Students.

New research published recently by one of our Researcher Network members suggests that veg*ans are found to be happier while they experience higher levels of emotional connection with nature. Past evidence on veg*n happiness has provided contradictory results with a tendency towards negative associations and despite a general consensus propelling a balanced veg*n diet to be an optimal dietary asset for health, the relationship between veg*ism and happiness is lacking evidence in the literature. In this new research the authors aimed to better comprehend these differences by introducing the covariate of nature connectedness. By doing so, they obtained a new perspective on the complex phenomena of veg*n happiness. This included cognitive, hedonic, and eudaimonic facets of wellbeing, distinguished veg*an identity from veg*an dietary pattern, and introduced personal emotional nature connectedness. In conclusion, robust nature interconnectedness was found to increase vegans’ life satisfaction and their subjective vitality. 

Krizanova, J., Guardiola, J. Happy but Vegetarian? Understanding the Relationship of Vegetarian Subjective Well-Being from the Nature-Connectedness Perspective of University Students. Applied Research Quality Life (2020).


Bending the Curve: The Restorative Power of Plant-Based Diets

Numerous recent studies have shown that a global shift toward healthier, more sustainable diets will combat climate change, improve human health and food security, reduce biodiversity loss, save lives, decrease the risks of future pandemics, and unlock economic benefits. This research by WWF has helped establish the global impacts of the current food system; now these global recommendations must be translated into local reality. This report begins this work by offering a detailed analysis of the impacts of various dietary patterns (including national dietary guidelines) on several health and environmental variables in 147 countries around the world, highlighting impacts using a handful of examples. The authors frame the analysis around five strategic actions that can be strongly influenced by dietary shifts and are needed to bend the curve on the negative impacts of the food system, moving from one that exploits the planet to one that restores it for nature and people. These actions are 1) reversing biodiversity loss; 2) living within the global carbon budget for food; 3) feeding humanity on existing cropland; 4) achieving negative emissions; and 5) optimizing crop yields. National-level success on these strategic actions through dietary changes is critical to building a nature-positive food system that helps to reverse the loss of nature to restore both people and planet. WWF (2020).

Bending the Curve: The Restorative Power of Planet-Based Diets. Loken, B. et al. WWF, Gland, Switzerland


Representation to Comprehensive Spending Review, The Food Foundation. September 2020.

This representation sets out recommendations on free school meals, Healthy Start and holiday food provision which the following organisations strongly support: School Food Matters, Food Foundation, Bite Back 2030, Save the Children UK, Feeding Britain, Soil Association, Meals & More, Mayor’s Fund for London, Church Action on Poverty, Chefs in Schools, Alexandra Rose Charity, Community Shop, FareShare and Food Cycle.


What does it mean to say that cultured meat is unnatural?

Cultured meat offers a potential alternative to factory farming and its associated problems. Despite this, public opinion about cultured meat is mixed. One concern cited by many potential consumers is that cultured meat is “unnatural”. Although there has been much interest in this perspective, there has been virtually no research exploring the psychological factors that motivate this view. This new study (N = 904) examines the beliefs, worldviews, and attitudes associated with the conclusion that cultured meat is unnatural. The authors found little evidence that naturalness perceptions flowed from a process of analytic reasoning; rather, ratings of unnaturalness appear to be grounded in affective mechanisms such as disgust and fear. This suggests that acceptance strategies that target analytic processing (e.g. information) may have limited success, which has indeed been the case with the strategies tested to date. These new indings are informative for research programs and cultured meat marketing strategies going forward. 

Wilks, M., Hornesey, M and P. Bloom. Appetite (156) 1 January 2021


Children prioritize humans over animals less than adults do

Is the tendency to morally prioritise humans over animals weaker in children than adults? In two pre-registered studies (N = 622), 5- to 9-year-old children and adults were presented with moral dilemmas pitting varying numbers of humans against varying numbers of either dogs or pigs and were asked who should be saved. In both studies, children had a weaker tendency to prioritise humans over animals than adults. They often chose to save multiple dogs over one human, and many valued the life of a dog as much as the life of a human. While they valued pigs less, the majority still prioritised ten pigs over one human. By contrast, almost all adults chose to save one human over even one hundred dogs or pigs. The authors argue that these findings suggest that the common view that humans are far more morally important than animals appears late in development and is likely socially acquired.

Wilks, M., Caviola, L., Kahane, G., & Bloom, P. (2020, September 11). Children prioritize humans over animals less than adults do.


A Farm Sanctuary Tour’s Effects On Intentions And Diet Change​

Farm sanctuaries exist to save animals from harmful environments and to give them their “forever home,” where they are kept safe for the remainder of their lives.  Although sanctuaries have a primary function of rescuing farmed animals, many farm sanctuaries advocate for animal rights and veganism, engage in public outreach and fundraising, and are open to the public for visitations in order to help shift the perception of farmed animals. This study by Faunalytics found that sanctuary tours can be highly satisfying experiences for most people, and can lead to important changes in attitudes, intentions, and behaviors. Participant feedback suggested that the key elements were one-on-one contact with the animals, educational videos and information on animal cruelty, and balanced messaging on plant-based lifestyles. All of these factors appeared to shape their beliefs and diets in order to help animals. 



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