The Effect of Gender on Animal Product Consumption Opinions and Behaviors

Senior Capstone Experience by Kelsey McNaul ’19

Submitted to the Department of Sociology and Department of Environmental Science and Studies

Advised by Dr. Nicholas Garcia and Dr. Rebecca Fox

Abstract: “The dietary and economic consumption of products derived from animals is influenced by various factors. Societal norms and traditions largely dictate the kinds of products that people consume, but over the past few decades, social movements in America have challenged the status quo in animal product consumption. In recent years, vegetarians, vegans, animal rights activists, environmentalists, and nutrition advocates have contributed to social movements promoting plant-based living. Though expression of gender is rarely an explicit concern of these social movements, these movements exist in a patriarchal society and thus experience consequences of gendered oppression. This study examines the impacts gender plays in animal product consumption opinions and behaviors. These behaviors include economic and dietary consumption, and opinions include animal welfare concern, environmental concern, nutrition concern, and nutrition definition. Utilizing an ecofeminist approach, this study further explores the interconnectedness of oppressions of femininity, nature, and animals. Engaging in intersectional analysis to explore how other oppressed identities regarding race and sexual orientation are feminized and naturalized, this research further explores the relationship between race, sexual orientation, and animal product consumption opinions and behaviors . Utilizing responses from an online questionnaire amassing 402 respondents, this research supports a connection between femininity and decreased animal product consumption, increased animal welfare concern, increased environmental concern, increased nutrition concern, and an increased likelihood of defining plant-based diets as healthy. Results regarding nonwhite racial status and nonheterosexual sexual orientation status tended to yield correlations supporting opinions and behaviors regarding decreased animal product consumption, though discrepancies existed, and results were largely statistically insignificant. This research contributes to the growing literature base in understanding the gendered nature of the vegan movement.”

Read Kelsey’s SCE here:

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