Underlying differences between conscientious omnivores and vegetarians in the evaluation of meat and animals

Appetite. 2015 Apr;87:251-8. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.12.206. Epub 2014 Dec 18.


As criticisms of factory farming continue to mount, an increasing number of individuals have changed their existing dietary practices. Perhaps the two most important options for those reacting against industrial farming are (1) vegetarianism/veganism (i.e., veg*nism), the avoidance of animal flesh/all animal products; and (2) conscientious omnivorism (CO), the consumption of meat or fish only when it satisfies certain ethical standards. While the former group has recently received much attention in the social science literature, studies specifically examining those who identify themselves as COs have been virtually nonexistent. The present research sought to investigate possible underlying attitudinal differences between the two groups. Results indicated that relative to veg*ns, COs evaluated animals less favorably, meat more favorably, and were lower in idealism, misanthropy, and ingroup identification. Mediation analysis demonstrated that differences between COs and veg*ns in the perceived acceptability of killing animals for food were mediated by beliefs about animals and meat. The discussion largely speculates on the causal direction of these effects.

Keywords: Conscientious omnivores; Ethical meat eating; Humane meat; Meat disgust; Vegetarians; vegans.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animal Welfare / ethics
  • Animals
  • Choice Behavior
  • Culture
  • Diet*
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Feeding Behavior / ethics*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences
  • Guilt
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meat*
  • Middle Aged
  • Taste