New Study Reveals Scientific Approach to Plant-Based Diet Change

May 8, 2020

What drives you? Whether it’s a fitness goal or a diet change, we all connect with a personal motivation, or “why,” that lights our fire to take action and make a change. At Switch4Good, our goal is to help you to find your “why.” It’s our job to equip you with all the information you need to discover your reason for ditching dairy, but different issues resonate with different people; ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what drives you. A recent study performed by UC Davis dug deeper into the science of motivation in relation to plant-based diet change. While passion is difficult to pin down to a science, we found this analytical approach to determine motives extremely interesting. If you’re having trouble finding your “why,” or if you’re trying to sway someone to give the plant-based diet a try, this study’s findings can be a helpful tool in your pursuit. 

The Study

Based on prior research, the study focused on the top three non-religious reasons for adopting a plant-based diet: health, animal rights, and the environment. The study set out to empirically determine what kind of person was most likely to be affected by these three drivers. Researchers also studied whether these motivations could be imbibed through “vegetarian advocacy materials.” 

Through sampling a range of populations (7,488 narrowed down to 739 participants) through two different languages (English and Dutch), the researchers created a Vegetarian Eating Motives Inventory that included 15 unique measures that could identify an individual’s specific motivation for eating a plant-based diet. 

The Results

The outcome revealed that health is the main driver for those who choose a plant-based diet. Even those who scored high in the animal rights and environmental causes also showed strong connections to health motivations. Based on the extensive questionnaire results, those predominantly motivated by health tend to be “conventional” and identified with obedient, conservative, religious, life satisfaction, and male traits. Those who fell into this category are also less likely to be influenced by advocacy materials, no matter the topic. 

In regards to the animal rights and environmental motivations, researchers found these were more challenging to detect. They did find that these individuals were more receptive to advocacy materials and that they tended to be “agreeable” and “value peace.” However, the only reliable indicator for detecting environmental motivations was those already involved with environmental organizations, and researchers failed to detect an accurate indicator for pinpointing those driven by animal rights concerns.  

The Take Home Message

The findings relating to health—the most common motivator—indicate that we as motivators need to take an alternative approach to the traditional methods of persuasion. In the past, flyers, pamphlets, and online targeted advertisements have been heavily relied upon to convince people to eat healthier, but while these tools may be educational, they are not motivating to the target demographic. Those who fall into the health category need to see shining examples of what their life could be like on a plant-based, dairy-free diet. 

If you’re struggling to find your “why,” consider taking a different approach to your motivation. Educating yourself about the detriments of dairy may not be enough to get you to commit, but watching an inspiring documentary like “The Game Changers” or short clips of professional athletes could alter your perspective for the better. To get started, check out our Make the Switch Guide for a step-by-step approach on getting motivated and committing to a dairy-free lifestyle. 

At Switch4Good, we strive to lead by example and showcase both elite athletes and everyday folks who have optimized their lives after ditching dairy. We combine education, cutting edge research, and anecdotal evidence to help everyone find and commit to their “why.” While additional research is needed, this study can help us direct our efforts and appeal to a wide range of people. We don’t all have to have the same reasons for ditching dairy, but we all can live better and do more—dairy-free. 

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