Vegans by Race and Ethnicity in the USA?

I know 0.5% of the USA population are vegans. Of that percentage, how many are white? I’m writing a book chapter and need to know this and can’t find the information anywhere!

For some strange reason, The Vegan Research Panel has gender and age, but no mention of race and ethnicity: http://www.imaner.net/panel/details4.htm .

An excerpt from my book chapter is below, for a 2010 book about food justice.

If anyone has any well researched statistical information on vegans by race and ethnicity in the USA, please let me know!
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Chapter Title (tentative): Problematic of Whiteness, Racialized Embodiment, and Use of the Word “Exotic” for Vegan Foods (Forthcoming 2010)
By A. Breeze Harper

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excerpt:

Practitioners of veganism abstain from animal consumption and a majority support animal rights. However, the culture of veganism itself is not a monolith and is in fact comprised of many different subcultures and philosophies throughout the world, ranging from punk strict vegans for animal rights (Cherry 2006), to people who are dietary vegans for personal health reasons, to people who practice veganism for religious and spiritual reasons. The Vegan Society, the organization that coined the term “vegan,” states that the heart of veganism calls for practice of Ahimsa or “compassion, kindness, and justice” for all living beings.

Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word for non-killing and non-harming. It is not mere passiveness, but a positive method of meeting the dilemmas and decisions of daily life. In the western world, we call it Dynamic Harmlessness. The six pillars of this dynamic philosophy for modern life (one for each letter: A-H-I-M-S-A) are: ABSTINENCE FROM ANIMAL PRODUCTS; HARMLESSNESS WITH REVERENCE FOR LIFE; INTEGRITY OF THOUGHT, WORD, AND DEED; MASTERY OVER ONESELF; SERVICE TO HUMANITY, NATURE, AND CREATION; ADVANCEMENT OF UNDERSTANDING AND TRUTH.1

Despite the definition above, it must be understood that veganism, at least in the United States of America, has the connotation of being a lifestyle of white socio-economic class privileged people. In the book Sistah Vegan: Black Females Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society, many of the volume’s contributors let their readers know that veganism is for everyone and is not solely the domain of white people (Harper 2009). In the popular satirical online site, Stuff White People Like, creator Christian Lander jokingly writes, “As with many white people activities, being vegan/vegetarian enables them to feel as though they are helping the environment AND it gives them a sweet way to feel superior to others” (Lander 2009). On Veggie Blog, March 14, 2008, the topic, “Is veganism another white privilege?” was posted2. Jo Stepaniak, author of numerous vegan books, writes on her website, “Bear in mind that not all vegans are white and privileged, and that veganism is a movement of global proportion”3. The most interesting aspect of these stereotypes is that an internet search of U.S. vegans by race/ethnicity results in zero findings; there are statistics on gender and age, but no one has yet to touch the category of race.    Implicit in this lack of research is that race is an unimportant issue to the vegan mainstream, despite the complaints, assumptions, and stereotypes from people that vegans are only white. This paper will examine the heavily under-researched intersection of race, vegan foodways, and whiteness.

Works Cited and Notes

1 Ahimsa Volume 41, Number 4, page 19.

2 http://www.happycow.net/blog/?p=117

3 http://www.vegsource.com/jo/qa/qaaffluent.htm

Cherry, Elizabeth. “Veganism as a Cultural Movement: A Relational Approach.” Social Movement Studies 5, no. 2 (2006): 155-70.

Harper, A. Breeze. Sistah Vegan:  Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society. New York: Lantern Books, 2009.

Lander, C. (2009). “Stuff White People Like.”   Retrieved August 25, 2009, from http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/01/27/32-veganvegetarianism/.

3 thoughts on “Vegans by Race and Ethnicity in the USA?

  1. Interesting piece. Did you find the statistics you needed? As a psych major I lean towards thinking it has something to do with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you are of low socio-economic class and low income, you are worrying about having your physiological, safety, and/or self esteem needs met, and you can’t focus on self-actualization. But on the other hand, why, then, are so many more woman vegan than men? Also, Gary Yourofsky said a lot of people who have been oppresssed respond to his message on veganism better because they empathize with animals being oppressed.

  2. It has to do with the use of Welfare. Health food stores are some time exclusive of food stamps and snap, making it harder for minorities to get access to healthy

    1. Vegans do not shop exclusively at health food stores, I shop Walmart and Aldi on SNAP as a vegan. If people don’t have access to stores like those and live in food deserts that would be an issue getting vegan food and or even healthy vegan food (dollar stores are getting in more and more “accidentally” vegan foods).

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