Implications of Vegetarianism for
As we have seen, many people become vegetarian because they anticipate benefits in the form of better health, personal growth, or an enhanced spiritual life. Do people really experience these rewards? Does vegetarianism make a difference? To answer these questions, we asked people about the ways in which they had changed since they became vegetarians. In framing our questions, we asked people to consider the health, psychological, ethical, spiritual, and sexual aspects of their lives.
We anticipated that people who stopped eating meat many years ago would find these questions difficult to answer. But for the great majority of vegetarians, the decision to give up meat is a major turning point in their lives. As such, it provides a marker that allows them to compare their feelings and experiences before and after. For many vegetarians, these changes are dramatic, obvious, and impossible to ignore. Consequently, most people in our sample, including long-term vegetarians, were able to respond to our questions without difficulty.
Eighty-four percent of people in our study report improvements in physical health after becoming vegetarian, 7 percent report decrements in health, and 9 percent report no change. Our figures are very similar to those reported in a 1987 Vege