Transitions to Vegetarianism: An Incongruent Consumer Journey

Carlos Alexis Mendoza & Megan Lucy di Risio

Student thesis: Master thesis


In recent years there has been a surge in the number of individuals transitioning their diet to vegetarianism. However, in western societies meat remains largely enrooted within consumption patterns. Thus, this phenomenon has attracted more attention within research and literature. A number of authors have studied the motivations of vegetarians but there has been a lack of empirical research on transitions to vegetarianism later in life. We investigate this gap in literature by exploring the identity and consumption pattern evolutions of adults in Denmark. The objective of this study is to extend existing research and fill the gap by proving an understanding of transitional individuals. This research uses an eight-week longitudinal diary study to explore the lived experiences of eleven individuals, as well as two semi-structured interviews to track the evolution of their dietary transition. Our results show evidence of an identity and consumption pattern evolution, where individuals faced numerous challenges throughout their transition. These obstacles characterised their transition, causing individuals to disguise their identity and relapse back to old consumption habits. Thus, transitional periods are represented by inconsistent consumption behaviour and fragile identities.
Our findings do not find support for symbolic consumption during transitional periods,but do find that dietary transitions are primarily reliant on consumption restriction. Our study contributes to literature in three ways. First, we contribute to how individuals’ identities and consumption patterns evolve during a transition and what challenges they face through out this time. Second, we contribute to consumption literature by exploring the role of consumption during dietary transitions.Finally, we contribute to identity and transitional literature by depicting the evolution of identity under transitional processes.Thus, our study presents insights for managers who wish to attain a share of the growing market of plant-based dieters and for governments to nudge more individuals in a plant-based direction.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages218
SupervisorsSylvia von Wallpach