Consumers' readiness to eat a plant-based diet

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2006 Mar;60(3):342-51. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602320.


Objective: The aim of this study was to examine consumers' readiness to change to a plant-based diet.

Design: Mail survey that included questions on readiness to change, eating habits and perceived benefits and barriers to the consumption of a plant-based diet.

Setting: Victoria, Australia.

Subjects: A total of 415 randomly selected adults.

Results: In terms of their readiness to eat a plant-based diet, the majority (58%) of participants were in the precontemplation stage of change, while 14% were in contemplation/preparation, and 28% in action/maintenance. Those in the action/maintenance stage ate more fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole-meal bread, and cooked cereals than those in earlier stages. There were statistically significant differences in age and vegetarian status between the stages of change, but not for other demographic variables. There were strong differences across the stages of change with regard to perceived benefits and barriers to plant-based diets. For example, those in action/maintenance scored highest for benefit factors associated with well-being, weight, health, convenience and finances, whereas those in the precontemplation stage did not recognise such benefits.

Conclusions: These findings can be utilised to help provide appropriate nutrition education and advertising, targeted at specific stages of change. For example, education about how it is possible to obtain iron and protein from a plant-based diet and on the benefits of change, in addition to tips on how to make a gradual, easy transition to a plant-based diet, could help progress precontemplators to later stages.

Sponsorship: Australian Research Council.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Diet / psychology*
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet, Vegetarian / psychology
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / psychology
  • Fruit
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Sciences / education
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables
  • Victoria