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Dietary Choices And Normalized Forms Of Eating

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    Introduction

    Individuals today choose dietary choices in more ways than ever before. Normalized forms of eating vary from an individual eating meat, vegetables and carbohydrates for every meal, or abstains from meat and other animal by-products altogether. Considering the onset of the omnivorous diet, the evolution of the plurality in dietary choices, namely a vegetarian or vegan diet, is taken for granted. Some people eat for health purposes or with a sense of morality of cause or religion. But how much does one’s culture influence their decision to start these diets? In other words, does someone’s culture influence their attitude and behavioral intention towards starting a vegetarian or a vegan diet? That is what this thesis strives to find out. This study is done because of the current interest in the United Kingdom (UK) of meat reduction and avoidance by adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet (IpsosMORI, 2016). The focus of this study will be on the UK but its findings can be of interest worldwide regardless of the location of the reader. Cultural theories by Geert Hofstede are used to research their influence on the attitude and behavioral intention of British individuals on starting a vegetarian or vegan diet.

    Based on the problem statement, the following research question has been formulated to guide the research: Is there a relationship between one’s culture and dietary choice? Based on the research question, the study will follow a structured format. Chapter 1 is designated to the introduction to the problem statement and research question. Chapter 2 comprises of a literature review of vegetarianism and veganism in the UK, and to frame their current understanding in cultural theory. Chapter 3 explains in great detail the methodology of the research conducted. Chapter 4 lists the results of the study. Chapter 5 delves into the discussion of the researched results. Finally, Chapter 6 closes the study with the formalized conclusions, limitations and suggestions for future research.

    Vegetarianism and its different kinds

    Vegetarianism is primarily a diet and a way of life where the consumption of meat is omitted. A person who adheres to this diet and lifestyle is referred to as a vegetarian. According to Janda and Trocchia (2001), a vegetarian consumes a diet which consists predominantly of plant-based sources such as legumes, grains, beans, nuts, fruits, vegetables and seeds. Even though a vegetarian does not consume the meat from any mammal, bird or fish, their diet may or may not include animal by-products such as dairy, eggs and honey (Key, Appleby & Rosell, 2006). There are many different types of vegetarians who all deviate to a certain extent from the original definition of vegetarianism. According to Weinsier (2000), it is difficult to assess and study the history of vegetarianism because of how widely the definition of vegetarian can differ. The confusion around the term vegetarian exists because of the different interpretations of whose who self-identity as vegetarian. The consequence hereof is that these “vegetarians” follow completely different diets. Some vegetarians do not eat any animal products nor by-products at all, while others occasionally eat poultry, meat and fish, while still self-identifying as vegetarian or a derivate therefrom. The most logical way of categorizing these types of vegetarians is by what they include in their diet.

    Types of vegetarians and what they eat. Flexitarians: all red (beef/pork) and white meat (fish/poultry) and dairy products (cheese, milk, butter) and eggs and occasional vegetarian dish. Semi-vegetarians: all white meat and dairy products and eggs. No red meat. Pesco-vegetarian: fish and dairy products and eggs. No other animal products. Lacto-ovo-vegetarians: dairy products and eggs. No other animal products. Lacto-vegetarians: dairy products. No other animal products. Ovo-vegetarians: eggs. No other animal products. Vegans: no animals nor products derived from animals. Raw vegans: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains in their natural state, no cooking or heating. Fruitarians: fresh fruit. For the purpose of this study, focus will be placed on lacto-ovo vegetarians, from now on referred to as “vegetarians’’, and vegans.

    Veganism

    The term “vegan” was created in 1944 by Donald Watson by putting together the first three and the last two letters of the word “vegetarian”. Veganism can be described as an extension of the vegetarian diet, sometimes being known as “strict vegetarianism” or “total vegetarianism”. What prompted this extension of vegetarianism was that small groups of vegetarians began to realize the non-ethical aspect of eating dairy products and eggs. The philosophy that they had about not eating animals was therefore further extended to not eating any products of animal origin (VeganSociety, n.d). Therefore, a vegan diet can be described as a diet omitting meat, poultry, fish, eggs, honey, gelatine, and dairy products namely: cheese, milk, yogurt, butter and all lactose-free versions of these products (Mann, 2009).

    Increasing popularity of vegetarianism and veganism in the UK

    In their research IpsosMORI (2016) found that 1.05% of the UK population over fifteen years old now identified as vegan. Furthermore, they also found that 2.20% of the UK population identify as vegetarian (IpsosMORI, 2016). Although these percentages may seem rather small, they account for many people living in the UK. The amount of vegetarians and especially vegans residing in the UK has risen significantly in recent years. The percentage of vegetarians in the UK has increased but at a slower pace. In 2012, vegetarians made up 2% of the UK population (Public Health England & Food Standards Agency, 2012). Thus, according to IpsosMORI (2016), vegetarianism in the UK increased 0.20% between 2012 and 2016. On the other hand, the percentage of vegans in the UK has risen substantially. In 2014, vegans made up around 0.20% of the UK population (White, 2018). Thus, according to IsosMORI (2016), veganism in the UK increased 0.80% between 2014 and 2016. This increase in opting for a vegan diet can also be seen by the amount of individuals who signed up to take part in “Veganuary”. Veganuary is a concept where individuals start the year by taking a pledge to consume a vegan diet during the month of January. Veganuary 2018 broke all previous records with 168,542 people singing up to go vegan for a month. In comparison, there were 59,500 participants in 2017; 23,000 in 2016; 12,800 in 2015; and 3,300 in Veganuary 2014 (Land, 2018). The UK population today consist of a bit more than one million identifying as vegetarian and more than half a million identifying as vegan (Jones, 2018).

    Motivations and cultural impact of these diets

    Modern motivations to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet vary per individual and per country but can generally be divided into two categories namely: eco-centric or anthropocentric motivations. Eco-centric motivations are related to concerns about environmental issues: environmental, humanitarian, religious, ethical and social reasons for consuming a vegetarian or vegan diet. Anthropocentric motivations are related to the perceived individualistic advantages of consuming a vegetarian or vegan diet. These motivations are especially concerns about weight, comfort, health, sensory (aversion to the sight or scent of meat) and money issues (DiPietro & Shani, 2007). Besides personal motivation, culture is believed to co-determine whether someone is likely to be vegetarian or vegan. Cultural dimensions for which this applies is the masculinity vs femininity and the short-term vs long term orientation cultural dimension theories of Geert Hofstede (Hofstede, 1980; Hofstede, 1991).

    Masculinity vs. Femininity cultural dimension

    Masculinity refers to societies in which social gender roles are clearly set and noticeable: men are supposed to be assertive, tough, and focused on material success, whereas women are supposed to be more modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life. The opposite is femininity (FEM), which refers to societies in which social gender roles overlap: both men and women are supposed to be modest, tender, and concerned with quality of life (Hofstede, 1980; Hofstede, 1991). Recent research has indicated a strong link between perception of FEM and the adherence to a vegetarian diet (Vartanian, 2015). A study conducted by Rozin, Hormes, Faith, and Wansink (2012), found that the consumption of meat is associated with masculine characteristics and the adherence to a vegetarian diet is associated with feminine characteristics. Women greatly outnumber men when it comes to vegetarianism (Maurer, 2002). Moreover, vegetarian men are redefining what it means to be masculine and a vegetarian. ‘Men who become vegetarians challenge an essential part of the masculine role. They are opting for women’s food. How dare they?’ (Adams, 1990: 138). According to Sobal (2015), individuals determine and confirm their identity as male or female, and do so by consuming masculine or feminine foods. In other words, you are what you eat (Vartanian, 2007). An individual’s masculinity is demonstrated by what they consume, namely meat, while an individual’s FEM is characterized by what they do not eat, namely meat due to its perceived masculinity (Fagerli & Wandel, 1999). Therefore, there is a link assumed between the extent to which an individual considers themselves to be feminine and their attitudes and behavioral intention towards a vegetarian diet (Vartanian, 2015).

    Short-term vs. long-term cultural dimension

    The short term orientation cultural dimension refers to placing emphasis on short-term consequences or benefits. In other words, a short-term oriented person focuses on the here and now and tends to make decisions on immediate desires and not worrying about future consequences. This person lives “in the moment” and only considers actions important if they offer immediate rewards. The opposite is long-term orientation (LTO) which refers to placing emphasis on the long-term (Hofstede, 1980; Hofstede, 1991). In other words, time is regarded from a holistic perspective where both the future and the past are valued. A long–term oriented person values perseverance, tradition, planning, working hard for the benefit of the future, and is less tempted by immediate desires (Bearden, Money & Nevins, 2006). Individuals differ in the perspective that they have on time (Bearden, Money & Nevins, 2006). According to Prelec and Loewenstein (1998), individuals tend to prefer instant gratification. However, consumers are also in favor of delayed rewards for the right reasons. This phenomenon of opting for delayed rewards can be seen in individuals who adopt a vegetarian diet due to environmental (eco-centric) motivations. A great deal of research has been conducted on the negative environmental impact of industrial-scale meat production for human consumption (Aiking, De Boer, & Vereijken, 2006; Helms, 2004; Jongen & Meerdink, 2001). Therefore, there is a link assumed between the extent to which an individual considers themselves to be long-term oriented and their attitudes and behavioral intention towards a vegetarian diet. Due to the fact that veganism itself is an extension of the vegetarian diet, one can also assume that the FEM and LTO factors leading to positive attitudes and behavioral intention towards a vegetarian diet, can also be extended towards a vegan diet.

    Attitudes and behavioral intentions

    Attitude has been defined as ‘A psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or disfavor’ (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993, p. 1). It is important to look at attitudes towards a certain behavior when trying to explain the intentions to engage in a specific behavior. Attitudes are formed through direct experiences or exposure to knowledge and messages that can alter existing beliefs associated with a particular attitude (Albarracin et al., 2005). The theory of reasoned action by Azjen and Fishbein (1975) states that attitudes towards performing a behavior and the subjective norms related to the behavior result in behavioral intentions. Generally speaking, the better the attitude towards a behavior, the higher the likelihood is of this behavior being engaged in (Hale, Househoulder & Greene, 2002). The theory of planned behavior is an extension of the theory of reasoned action (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980; Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975). As in the original theory of reasoned action, the intention of an individual to perform a specific behavior is central in the theory of planned behavior. Intentions capture the motivations that have an influence on human behavior. Moreover, they indicate how much of an effort an individual is willing to put in order to perform the behavior. Moreover, this intention to engage in a certain behavior can only be expressed if the behavior in question is under volitional control. Generally speaking, the stronger the intention to engage in a behavior, the more likely it is to be performed (Ajzen, 1991).

    Thus, based on the relationships and suppositions evident in the literature, the purpose of the thesis was to examine the following hypotheses:

    1. There is a positive relationship between LTO and one’s attitude towards a vegetarian diet.
    2. There is a positive relationship between LTO and on one’s intention to follow a vegetarian diet.
    3. There is a positive relationship between LTO and one’s attitude towards a vegan diet.
    4. There is a positive relationship between LTO and one’s intention to follow a vegan diet.
    5. There is a positive relationship between FEM and one’s attitude towards a vegetarian diet.
    6. There is a positive relationship between FEM one’s intention to follow a vegetarian diet.
    7. There is a positive relationship between FEM and one’s attitude towards a vegan diet.
    8. There is a positive relationship between FEM and one’s intention to follow a vegan diet.

    Methodology

    Measures

    A survey was created to measure differences on an individual level of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory (Hofstede, 1980; Hofstede, 1991). The survey used existing scales from Furrer (2000) adapted from Hofstede (1980, 1991) to measure individual differences in LTO and FEM (Furrer, 2000; Hofstede, 1980; Hofstede, 1991). The scales used by Furrer (2000) were 4 statements about LTO, and also 4 statements about FEM. The respondents of the survey could indicate to what extent they either strongly disagreed or strongly agreed to these statements on a 7-point Likert-type scale. Before measuring the attitude of the respondents concerning vegetarianism and veganism, the survey asked respondents whether they were vegetarian, vegan or none of the above. This question was asked to control for this factor in the analyses. After checking for diet, a scale developed by Naughton (2013) which measures one’s attitude towards a healthy diet was adapted to “attitude towards a vegetarian diet” and “attitude towards a vegan diet”, and was used in the survey. The scale consisted of five statements which could be answered using a 7-point Likert-type scale, ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree for both diets. (Naughton, 2013).

    Next followed a statement regarding the behavioral intentions of the respondents to eat a vegetarian or a vegan diet. A statement used by Kaplanidou (2010) to determine one’s intention to participate in next year’s sport event was adapted to “intention to start a vegetarian diet” and “intention to start a vegan diet”. The respondents were asked to indicate how likely they were to start these diets using a 7-point Likert-type scale ranging from very unlikely to very likely (Kaplanidou, 2010). Lastly, the respondents were asked questions concerning their demographics. They were asked to indicate their age, gender, educational degree and whether they owned a pet. The final survey was published in December 2018 on Survio.com. Table 2 shows the scales that were used to measure the main concepts in the study; LTO, FEM, current diet, attitude towards a vegetarian diet, attitude towards a vegan diet, intention to start a vegetarian diet and intention to start a vegan diet.

    Scales main concepts

    Long-term orientation (Furrer, 2000)

    1. Willingness to subordinate oneself for a purpose is normal. (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree).
    2. People should be perseverant toward long-term results. (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree).
    3. Traditions should be respected. (reversed item), (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree).
    4. Social obligations should be respected regardless of cost. (reversed item), (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree).

    Femininity (Furrer, 2000)

    1. Money and material things are important. (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree)
    2. Men are supposed to be assertive, ambitious, and tough, (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree)
    3. Dominant values in society are the caring for others and preservation. (reversed item), (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree)
    4. Both men and women are allowed to be tender and to be concerned with relationships. (reversed item), (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree)

    Attitude towards vegetarian diet (Naughton, 2013)

    1. A vegetarian diet will keep me healthy. (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree)
    2. A vegetarian diet is nutritious. (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree)
    3. A vegetarian diet contains sufficient vitamins and minerals, (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree)
    4. A vegetarian diet will help me control my weight. (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree)
    5. A vegetarian diet is a healthy and balanced diet. (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree)

    Attitude towards vegan diet (Naughton, 2013)

    1. A vegan diet will keep me healthy. (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree)
    2. A vegan diet is nutritious. (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree)
    3. A vegan diet contains sufficient vitamins and minerals, (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree)
    4. A vegan diet will help me control my weight. (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree)
    5. A vegan diet is a healthy and balanced diet. (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree)

    Intention to start a vegetarian diet (Kaplanidou, 2010)

    1. How likely are you to start eating a vegetarian diet? (1 = very unlikely, 7 = very likely)

    Intention to start a vegan diet (Kaplanidou, 2010)

    1. How likely are you to start eating a vegan diet? (1 = very unlikely, 7 = very likely)

    Respondents

    The survey was filled out by a total of 75 individuals of British nationality. More women (n = 48) than men (n = 26) filled out the survey and the average age of these participants was 27 years (SD = 10.24). 70.7% of these individuals had a bachelor’s degree as a level of education and the majority also had pets.

    Procedure

    As this study has a focus on the UK, individuals of British nationality were asked to fill in the survey. The respondents were recruited via snowball sampling and were approached via Facebook messenger, WhatsApp and email to participate in the study. The link to the survey was subsequently sent to these willing respondents and they received a time period of one week to fill it in. The respondents were all sent a link which when clicked upon brought them to the start of the survey. They were first of all thanked for taking part in the study and then followed a short explanation of what the study was about. The short amount of time that would be needed to complete the survey was mentioned and the respondents were also reassured that they would remain anonymous. A raffle for an Amazon gift card between those who fill in the survey was announced at the end of the survey introduction with the intention of piquing their interest to take the survey.

    The respondents were firstly asked to indicate to what extent they agreed with statements regarding LTO and FEM. Next came an indication that the following questions in the survey were about a vegetarian and a vegan diet. A definition for both diets was shown in order to eliminate potentially unintended confusion regarding these different diets. The respondents where then asked whether or not they already identified as vegetarian or vegan.The respondents were subsequently asked about their attitude towards and intention to start a vegetarian/vegan diet. The demographic questions were placed at the end of the survey.Just before the ending of the survey, the participants were asked to provide their email address if they wished to be part of the raffle to win an Amazon gift card. All questions in the survey were mandatory besides this one due to privacy reasons. The participants were given the choice to opt into the raffle if they wanted to. And lastly, the survey ended by thanking the respondents once again for having taken part in the study.

    Statistical analysis

    Correlation tests were done to determine whether the main concepts in this study correlated with each other. Correlation tests were firstly done on LTO and attitude towards a vegetarian diet and also of LTO on the behavioral intention to follow a vegetarian diet. Correlation tests were then also done on LTO and attitude towards a vegan diet and the behavioral intention to follow a vegan diet. These correlation tests were repeated again to see whether FEM correlated to the attitude towards a vegetarian or vegan diet, and the intention to start a vegetarian or a vegan diet. Correlation tests were also done to determine whether the attitudes of the respondent about a diet correlated with their behavioral intention to start following that diet. This correlation test was done once for the vegetarian diet and then repeated for the vegan diet.

    Results

    Reliability analysis

    The LTO scale used by Furrer (2000) was not provided with a CA coefficient. It was therefore unknown before this current study whether Furrer’s scale had a good internal consistency. In the current study, the CA coefficient was 0.30. Which means that it is not considered a reliable scale (Stat book ref). The same holds for the FEM scale used by Furrer (2000). The femininity scale used by Furrer (2000) was also not provided with a CA coefficient. It was therefore unknown before this current study whether Furrer’s scale had a good internal consistency. In the current study, the CA coefficient was extremely low: 0.00. A scale from Naughton (2013) which measures ones attitude towards a healthy diet was adapted to “attitude towards a vegetarian diet” and “attitude towards a vegan diet”. The original scale had a good internal consistency, with a CA coefficient reported of 0.81 (Naughton, 2013). The adapted scale used for the current study had a CA coefficient of 0.89 (vegetarian diet) and a CA coefficient of 0.93 (vegan diet), suggesting good internal consistency for both scales. As is evident from the information above, two of the scales were reliable and two were not. Even though it is not advisable to continue working with a scale which has a CA coefficient below 0.70 (STAT BOOK REFERENCE) and I acknowledge that the LTO and FEM scales have an extremely low CA coefficients, it was decided to continue working with these scales. These scales were taken from an article (Furrer, 2000) published in a respected academic journal (Sage Publishing, 2000) and were derived from an authority in the field of culture (Hofstede, 1980; Hofstede, 1991). Thus the scales are used in the analysis. However, I urge the reader to be careful with the interpretation of the results.

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    Dietary Choices And Normalized Forms Of Eating. (2022, May 04). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/dietary-choices-and-normalized-forms-of-eating/

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