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Vegetarianism: Movement Or Moment: Promoting A Lifestyle For Cult Change

Donna Maurer
Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Vegetarianism seems to be increasing in popularity and acceptance in the United States and Canada, yet, quite surprisingly, the percentage of the population practicing vegetarian diets has not changed dramatically over the past 30 years. People typically view vegetarianism as a personal habit or food choice, even though organizations in North America have been promoting vegetarianism as a movement since the 1850s. This book examines the organizational aspects of vegetarianism and tries to explain why the predominant movement strategies have not successfully attracted more people to adopt a vegetarian identity.Vegetarianism: Movement or Moment? is the first book to consider the movement on a broad scale from a social science perspective. While this book takes into account the unique history of North American vegetarianism and the various reasons why people adopt vegetarian diets, it focuses on how movement leaders' beliefs regarding the dynamics of social change contributes to the selection of particular strategies for attracting people to vegetarianism. In the context of this focus, this book highlights several controversies about vegetarianism that have emerged in nutrition and popular media over the past 30 years.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0552-4
    Subjects: Sociology, Public Health

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  5. 1 What Is Vegetarianism? And Who Are the Vegetarians?
    (pp. 1-21)

    What is vegetarianism? Is it a diet or a lifestyle? Is it a social movement or a bunch of people who happen to eat the same way? Is it a passing fad or a developing trend?

    When meat eaters hear the term “vegetarian,” they typically think of an ovo-lacto-vegetarian, someone who eats no meat, poultry, or fish but who consumes some dairy products and eggs. But there are also lacto-vegetarians, who eat dairy products but not eggs; ovo-vegetarians, who consume eggs but not dairy products; and vegans, who consume (and wear) no animal products or by-products whatsoever. And then there...

  6. 2 Vegetarian Diets and the Health Professions: Historical Perspectives and Contemporary Issues
    (pp. 22-46)

    Although people in the nineteenth century often linked vegetarian diets with such social causes as abolition and temperance, Graham and other charismatic health leaders successfully encouraged many people to adopt vegetarian diets to cure or assuage health problems. Today, most North American vegetarians are still motivated by health concerns,¹ unlike their British counterparts, who historically and contemporarily have been more concerned with animal rights and ethics.² Although the reform components of the nineteenth-century North American vegetarian movement weakened over time, many individuals and groups have incorporated vegetarianism into various forms of political and social reform. For example, in 1948, John...

  7. 3 Charting the Contemporary Vegetarian Movement in the Social Movement Field
    (pp. 47-69)

    Social movement activity is much more complex than it seems at first glance. When we think of a social movement, we might think of a single entity consistently acting as a unit. In reality, however, a movement comprises many parts that may or may not work together as a functioning whole. At the same time, a social movement does not exist in isolation; it depends on reactions from other movements and countermovements in the social movement field. Related movements can provide alliances and bases for potential new members. By provoking controversy and bringing attention to goals and ideas, countermovements can...

  8. 4 Vegetarianism: Expressions of Ideology in Vegetarian Organizations
    (pp. 70-88)

    Vegetarianism, the movement’s ideology, criticizes meat eating and offers a vision for a meatless world; it is a set of ideas and values that people and organizations can draw from and combine in different ways. In his early treatment of social movements, sociologist Herbert Blumer defined ideology as “a body of doctrine, beliefs, and myths” that gives a movement “direction, justification, weapons of attack, weapons of defense, and inspiration and hope.”¹ As such, an ideology is a symbolic system that people construct and manipulate, a set of interrelated meanings that may make sense to one group of people but not...

  9. 5 The Beliefs and Strategies of Vegetarian Movement Leaders
    (pp. 89-116)

    Why do movement leaders choose some strategies and overlook others? How do they determine which ones will be the most effective? Sociologists recognize several important structural factors that shape social movement strategies, including material and human resources, political constraints, and group decision-making activities,¹ but far less attention has been paid to the shared group knowledge that contributes to the strategy-making process.

    In the vegetarian movement, a rich, complex set of ideas about how personal, cultural, and social changes occur channels leaders’ choices about which strategies to implement and how to put them into effect. These ideas answer important questions: How...

  10. 6 Organizational Strategy in Action: Promoting a Vegetarian Collective Identity
    (pp. 117-130)

    To varying degrees, vegetarian leaders and their respective organizations adopt an inclusive approach to promoting vegetarianism that embraces as positive all movement toward vegetarian diets. For example, even though less than one-third of the twelve million U.S. adults who self-identify as vegetarians actually follow a vegetarian diet,¹ leaders applaud the number because they see it as evidence that many peoplewantto be and like to think of themselves as vegetarians. Vegetarians also celebrate the fact that cultural stereotypes that associated their lifestyle with the hippie counterculture and youthful rebellion have given way to a general view of vegetarian diets...

  11. 7 The Food Industryʹs Role in Promoting and Gaining Acceptance for Vegetarian Diets
    (pp. 131-140)

    Shopping for vegetarian foods today is much easier than it was twenty years ago. Veggie burgers, “not dogs,” and tofu can be found in most grocery stores, even in remote areas. Most communities have at least one local health food store, and many support a food co-operative (or co-op), making it easy to find vegetarian foods, organic produce, and bulk goods such as grains and nuts. Large mainstream grocery chains, such as Wegmans and Safeway, have “natural foods” sections, and large natural foods grocery store chains such as Fresh Fields and Bread and Circus are expanding. Even online, at such...

  12. 8 What Is the Future of the Vegetarian Movement?
    (pp. 141-150)

    In the late 1960s and 1970s—spurred by the hippie counterculture, by such seminal works as Lappé’sDiet for a Small Planetand Singer’sAnimal Liberation, and by dietitians’ and physicians’ increasing acceptance of vegetarianism—the North American vegetarian movement gained significant momentum. Since that time—at least in terms of the percentage of the population that practices vegetarianism and that participates in vegetarian organizations—the vegetarian movement has changed little.

    By holding conferences and distributing vegetarian information, vegetarian organizations such as AVS and NAVS tried to capitalize on the increasing public interest in and attention toward vegetarianism in the...

  13. Appendix A: Methodology
    (pp. 151-152)
  14. Appendix B: Vegetarian Websites
    (pp. 153-154)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 155-182)
  16. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 183-186)
  17. Index
    (pp. 187-192)