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In Their Own Words: The Challenges Of Being Vegan

While vegans may choose not to disclose their status to avoid negative perceptions or unwanted conversations, this choice may have adverse consequences.

SARA STREETER: ‘Eating is often a social activity. From the family dinner table to holiday meals to evenings out with friends, our interactions with others frequently involve food. For vegans, these same occasions can be fraught with minefields. This doctoral dissertation, in the relatively new field of food communications, examines how vegans communicate about their food choices…

This study explores the communication challenges faced by vegans when managing their identity and whether identity gaps emerge as vegans try to negotiate the four layers of identity posited by the CTI. Gaps occur when people communicate or behave inconsistently. For example, a self-professed vegan might consume dairy at a business luncheon to avoid awkwardness or to keep from being seen as “not part of the team.”

They also might accept labeling as a health nut by their colleagues rather than engage the potentially difficult discussion of the moral reasons behind their food choices. Data was gathered through 40 semi-structured phone interviews. A variety of open-ended questions elicited information on how the respondents managed and negotiated their vegan identity and what communication challenges they had experienced…

While vegans may choose not to disclose their status to avoid negative perceptions or unwanted conversations, this choice may have adverse consequences. Social support made a profound difference in the lives of the participants, and being less authentic may reduce communication satisfaction and compromise the health of relationships. Animal advocates can use this dissertation to more fully inform potential vegans of challenges they may encounter. It also offers ideas from those who have “walked the walk” on how to deal with some of the potential hurdles of adopting a strictly plant-based diet’. SOURCE…

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