Have you ever wondered what kind of person reduces their meat consumption, becomes vegetarian, or becomes vegan? And why do they do it? And why do some of them return to their carnivorous ways? Nick Cooney’s new book, Veganomics: The Surprising Science on What Motivates Vegetarians, from the Breakfast Table to the Bedroom, offers some possible answers to these questions.
I met Nick when he spoke at Their Lives, Our Voices in 2010. He talked about the need to use psychology to influence human behavior. Soon after TLOV, he wrote his first book, Change of Heart, which applied this kind of scientific research to his recommendations for activists.
Veganomics is an excellent follow-up. In preparation for writing this book, Nick thoroughly reviewed dozens of surveys that documented why different groups of people did or did not consume animal products. While the steady flow of statistics may have a mind-numbing effect, the conclusions are ultimately illuminating. For example, the surveys unanimously show that animal suffering and human health are the primary motivating factors to reduce meat consumption, but that environmental devastation and world hunger are much less influential.
Unfortunately, even the best research on which the book was based could be much better. Many of the surveys are old, have a small sample size, and limit the conversation to diet, not exploring other forms of activism, such as sharing videos, volunteering, or donating funds. With this in mind, we can assume that these conclusions are not completely accurate, comprehensive, or current.
All in all, the book furthers the conversation about how we can use science to improve our strategy for helping animals. Nick provides clear recommendations for the demographics we should target and the messages that we should send in order to have the most far-reaching effect. Along with that, the survey findings are often amusing or fascinating.
This book is an excellent read for anyone involved in the animal protection movement. I highly recommend it as a useful resource that may take our work for the animals to the next level.