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Which Proposal Is The Most Effective To Change A Diet?

Is it better to advocate for a vegetarian or a vegan diet or simply to cut back on eating animal products? There was no study on which works best, until now.
October 10, 2015

In a recent study held by the animal rights organization The Humane League, several students chosen at random were asked to answer a short survey on how often they consume several animal products. Then they received a brochure that shows the cruelty of factory farms while detailing the health benefits of a diet free of animal products. All brochures were identical, except for the type of diet promoted; some supported “veganism“, others “vegetarianism“, others encouraged people “to eat less meat“, while some advised to “cut out or cut back on” their consumption of meat and other animal products. In addition, there was a control group, who did not receive any brochures.

Two and four months later, participants were contacted by mail and telephone and were asked to complete another survey on how often they consumed various animal products.

A total of 1,594 participants completed the initial survey, of which 601 agreed to participate in the second survey. Data collected from these 601 people were used to determine which message was the most effective.

Important findings

According to this study, the message to “cut out or cut back on” the consumption of meat and other animal products seems to be the one that worked best; it got a further reduction in the consumption of animal products than the “vegetarian” (the difference was statistically significant) or the “vegan” diet (the difference was statistically quite significant) messages.

Encouraging readers to “eat less meat” turned out to be the second most effective option, although statistics showed no significant difference between this one and the other two.

The effectiveness of the different messages kept the same objective in which days, where animals would have suffered, were avoided.


Although this study has not yet been conducted on a larger scale that could provide a more definitive answer, it can be inferred that at least in university-age subjects, using “cut out or cut back on” consumption of meat and other animal products is the more effective message than encouraging them to follow a “vegetarian” or “vegan” diet.

Therefore, organizations that advocate for “veganism” may want to modify the message of their websites, pamphlets, videos, and other materials to encourage people to simply “cut out or cut back on” their consumption of animal products.


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