The Vegan Movement: A Case Study of Activism

Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Through this study, I aim to demonstrate why individuals become involved in activism by utilizing the vegan movement as a case study for activism as a whole. My findings provide insight into what motivates people to become voices for a particular social movement, and offer ways to increase rates of involvement––such as strengthening and promoting like-minded community spaces. This is a key part of what drives society forward and why activism is so important; it not only provides these individuals––who share common beliefs––with a place to flourish within society, but it empowers them to inform the rest of the population about new or changing social issues. As vegan activism is a new social movement, it is able to provide more insight to how movements gain traction in today’s society than movements of the past can. Previous research on activism involvement has touched upon the importance of community values, but I argue that being around like-minded individuals is not the only driving force. In regard to my research on vegan activism, one major finding is that these individuals discuss their activism as something inherent––they are compelled to use their voices for those who cannot.

In my literature review, I discuss variables already known to have an impact on rates of involvement in vegan activism, including perceived privilege and exclusion associated with the vegan movement, the community values it promotes, and the social stigma associated with joining it. My results were obtained by conducting interviews with individuals of varying age and racial and ethnic backgrounds. These individuals follow a vegan lifestyle and promote it through attendance of activist-driven events, or through other forms of demonstration––such as postings on their social media pages. I conducted observational data on social media outlets such as Instagram, and I also conducted field notes at several vigils––events aimed at bearing witness to the suffering of animals. Through the events and interviews, I talked with roughly 25 individuals to discern why they became activists. The data I have collected and analyzed will be applicable to the study of activism within other movements, and the results will help delineate ways to increase involvement within them.


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