Why Do People Become
As we noted earlier, a variety of historical developments and social trends have made vegetarianism a growing and influential force today. But while it is one thing to understand something about these large-scale social movements, it is quite another to understand the experiences of particular individuals who live as vegetarians. In this chapter and the ones that follow, we turn to our interviews, questionnaires, and letters from vegetarians to describe what it is like to live as a herbivore in an omnivorous society. We begin by describing how we located people for our study.
At first we thought it would be difficult to find vegetarians. We knew, according to the Gallup poll referred to earlier, that a large and increasing number of Americans identify themselves as vegetarians. But how could we get in contact with them? And, more importantly, how could we persuade them to share their private beliefs and experiences with us?
We began by placing notices in newsletters of vegetarian organizations describing our project and asking people to write to us. Most of the newsletters we used are in the United States, but we also placed notices in English and Australian publications. In our request, we asked people to comment on a variety