The number of consumers following a vegan diet has notably increased in many industrialised countries and it is likely that their influence on the food sector will continue to grow. The aim of the present study was to identify different segments of consumers according to their motivation for following a vegan diet. Another objective was to analyse the attitudes of these consumers towards animal agriculture. The main focus was to determine whether all consumers following a vegan diet oppose animal agriculture in general or if some of these consumers accept certain forms of animal agriculture. The 2014 study, conducted at seven vegan supermarkets in Germany, was based on face-to-face interviews with 329 consumers following a vegan diet. The open question on consumer motivations for adopting a vegan diet revealed three main motives: Animal-related motives (mentioned by 89.7% of the respondents), motives related to personal well-being and/or health (69.3%), and environment-related motives (46.8%). The two-step cluster analysis identified five consumer segments with different motivations for following a vegan diet. The vast majority of respondents (81.8%) mentioned more than one motive. We conclude that making a dichotomous segmentation into ethical versus self-oriented consumers, as previous authors have done, disregards the fact that many consumers following a vegan diet are driven by more than one motive. The consumer segments had significantly different attitudes towards animal agriculture. We identified consumers following a vegan diet (about one third of the sample) who might be open to forms of animal agriculture guaranteeing animal welfare standards going beyond current practices. The present study has interesting implications for the food sector and the agricultural sector.
Keywords: Animal agriculture; Animal welfare; Attitudes; Consumer segments; Ethical consumption; Motivation; Vegan diet.
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