New research* by The Vegan Society has revealed that 71% of people in the UK have experienced guilt about eating meat ‘some’ (49%) or ‘all’ (22%) of the time.
And, even out of those not limiting their consumption of meat and animal products at all, 45% said they felt guilty about it ‘some’ or ‘all’ of the time.
To mark World Vegan Month this November, the charity has launched its new campaign 'Be AnimalKind' which aims to help people explore their relationship with all animals and think about why they love some animals but use others for food or clothing.
As part of the campaign, 2,000 non-vegans, including meat-eaters, those reducing their consumption of animal products, vegetarians and pescatarians, were asked questions to help understand the connection consumers make between farmed animals and their food.
The results revealed a generational gap. For those aged 18-30, 80% said they had felt guilty about eating meat. For those aged 50-65, the figure was only 59%.
Interestingly, when asked, older respondents were more likely to say they were ‘very much’ animal lovers (68%) compared to younger respondents (61%). The results revealed the UK is still a ‘nation of animal lovers’: overall 65% of the panel said they were ‘very much’ animal lovers, while 31% responded ‘somewhat’. Just 3.3% of panellists said they had no interest in animals.
There were stark differences between respondents’ level of guilt about eating different animal products. When asked to select answers for each animal product as to whether they 'ever felt guilty' for eating them:
- Out of non-vegetarian respondents (1,837 people), just 31% said they did not feel guilty for eating meat.
- Some also said they had felt guilty about consuming fish – with half of these respondents selecting 'some' (39%) or 'all’ of the time (10%).
- 10% of all respondents (2,000) said they felt guilty ‘all the time’ about consuming dairy milk, while 29% selected ‘some of the time’. 61% said they ‘don’t feel guilty’.
- Eating eggs had the lowest level of associated guilt, with just 8% of the total panel admitting to feeling guilty ‘all the time’ and 31% feeling guilty ‘some of the time’.
This reflects how well cruelty is hidden in the dairy and egg industries, as many consumers do not know that they are inextricably linked to the meat industry. All animals in food systems have their lives cut cruelly short.
Campaign lead at The Vegan Society, Elena Orde, said: “No one wants to contribute to suffering but unfortunately most of us were raised to think of certain animals as ‘something’ rather than ‘someone’. Be AnimalKind is about helping us to reconnect with our sense of compassion and to learn how to live in alignment with our values. All animals deserve our love and respect. Be AnimalKind creates a welcoming and non-judgemental space for everyone to consider how their actions impact the lives of all animals, not just the ones we share our home with.”
Visit the Be AnimalKind website for more information. Follow the hashtag #LoveOneLoveAll on The Vegan Society’s socials to stay up to date with the campaign, and to find support and guidance on transitioning to a vegan lifestyle.
*Survey titled “Share your thoughts”, conducted online in October 2022 via the Attest platform. 2000 non-vegan respondents, working age nationally representative for age, gender and home region.