Research indicates that more African Americans are going vegan than white people.
According to data analytics firm Gallup, nonwhites, in general, are more likely to reduce meat consumption, follow a flexitarian diet, and go vegan than other demographics. Health and the environment are key motivators for changing diets.
A total of 23 percent of American adults ate less meat in the past 12 months. While approximately 31 percent of people of color reported reduced meat consumption in the same period, just 19 percent of white people reported such a reduction.
Gallup reports that a reduction in meat consumption is primarily due to concerned meat-eaters rather than “full” vegetarians. The growing global popularity of flexitarianism—a primarily vegetarian but flexible diet—has also led to increased demand for vegan food.
African Americans are more likely to be meat reducers and fully vegan. In 2016, “nonpartisan fact tank” Pew Research Center confirmed that just three percent of the American population identified as vegan. However, that figure jumps to around eight percent among African American adults.
According to both research groups, health is a driving factor among those reducing their meat consumption. Though climate change is also a crucial motivator for many vegan and flexitarian Americans.
Concern Over Climate Change
According to research published in the online journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States), people of color and low-income Americans are far more likely to be concerned about issues such as climate change.
Participants were asked to rate their concern for the environment from one to five, with five being extremely concerned. The study revealed that minority and historically poorer groups—specifically African Americans, Latinos, and Asians—on average rated themselves as three, moderately concerned.
It is overwhelmingly marginalized groups who are more likely to be impacted by environmental disasters and climate change. These communities are also far more likely to live in areas affected by air pollution—including from factory farms.
Animal agriculture is a leading contributor to the ongoing climate crisis, as well as increasing localized health risks. It is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Good and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. A 2018 large-scale food production analysis revealed that adopting a plant-based diet is the most effective way to combat climate change.