Questions, answers and evaluation /Hungary, March 2017/

I launched a google survey in the 1st of January at 20:18 and closed it in the 16th of January at 16:00. Until this time 242 answers were collected. I posted the survey in two relevant FB groups (vegan in Hungary, Vegan Allatvedelem) and among the members of a community living by vegan principles - it was shared only one time. I did not collect names or any private data, the people who filled the survey remained anonimous. The cleaning and sorting of the data took about 20 hours, the composition of the drafts and the basic charts meant 25 hours of work. There had been altogether seventeen questions to answer, though not all of them were always answered, and sometimes the result could not be taken as valid. Let’s see them one by one.

seitan & tofu

1. Why did you choose to go vegan?

Multiple options. Total number of answers given: 241, evaluable: 234

  • ethical reason: so that less animals would suffer from human exploitation
  • emotional reason: I love animals, so I don’t eat them
  • health reason: because this is best for my body
  • spiritual reason: I feel that for spiritual development one must live by the principle of ahimsa (not-to-injure)

All options were selected by 51 persons.

2. What inspired you to make the choice?

Multiple options. Total number of answers given: 242, evaluable: 234

  • movie about animal exploitation
  • presentation or workshop
  • reading a book (e.g. China study)
  • infos from the internet
  • personal experience
  • a friend of mine raised my interest
  • there’s a person I admire who’s vegan

3. When did you switch to plant-based diet (year, month)?

Ideally a short answer came here: year, month. Total number of answers given: 229, evaluable for year were 222, only 186 for month. Some typed a season, an event or an exact date instead of the month, or told us that she/he’s not vegan yet but plans to be. Six answerers noted how long they had been vegetarians earlier (I should have inserted a separate question about this).

4. How comlicated do you feel vegan life is?

1 option. Total number of answers given: 239, evaluable: 234

  • there are a lot of hardships
  • I manage things
  • I think it’s easy to be vegan

5. Is your vegan lifestyle financially challenging?

1 option. Total number of answers given: 239, evaluable: 234

  • the products are pricy, I spend more
  • there is no change in my costs
  • I afford it easily, I spend less

6. Are you paying attention to buy only vegan items (cleansing stuff, clothing, etc.)?

1 option. Total number of answers given: 239, evaluable: 234

  • absolutely
  • generally yes, though sometimes I buy stuff that I know isn’t vegan
  • I rarely buy vegan items but I’d like to pay more attention to this
  • not really

7. Since you’re vegan, do you miss meat or diary?

1 option. Total number of answers given: 239, evaluable: 234

  • yes
  • sometimes
  • not at all

8. Do you like meat substitutes?

1 option. Total number of answers given: 239, evaluable: 234

  • yes, and I often use them
  • yes, but I barely use them
  • no, I keep away from them

9. Which is your favourite meat substitute that you prefer to use?

Multiple options. Total number of answers given: 239, evaluable: 234

  • seitan
  • tofu
  • tempeh
  • soy sausage, soy cold cuts
  • grain sausage
  • vegetable rissoles
  • soy cubes, granulate
  • I don’t use any

10. Do you regularly buy vegan cheese?

1 option. Total number of answers given: 239, evaluable: 234

  • yes, and I like it
  • it happens
  • very very rarely
  • no
  • I don’t know what it’s like

11. Are you visiting vegan or vegetarian events or communities?

1 option. Total number of answers given: 239, evaluable: 234

  • yes, and I’m an active member
  • whenever I can, yes
  • sometimes
  • I never visited any

12. Are you visiting vegan snackbars and restaurants?

1 option. Total number of answers given: 239, evaluable: 234

  • yes, every time I can
  • yes, it happens
  • seldom ever
  • I never visited any

13. What do you think about raw vegan diet?

1 option. Total number of answers given: 236, evaluable: 234

  • I am already raw
  • I’d try it
  • I don’t think it works on long term but for a short run it’d be okay
  • I’d better avoid experimenting
  • never, this is an extremist trend

14. Did your the state of your health change since you went vegan?

1 option. Total number of answers given: 237, evaluable: 234

  • yes, and it got much better
  • no change
  • it went worse

15. How do you feel in general as a vegan?

Multiple options. Total number of answers given: 233, evaluable: 230

  • I feel better in general
  • I feel easier
  • I feel cleaner
  • I feel weaker
  • I got all kinds of issues
  • I am happier
  • I am emotionally more sensitive
  • I am sadder
  • it frustrates me that I can’t do more for the animals

16. In general, how do you react on the remarks of meat-eaters?

1 option. Total number of answers given: 237, evaluable: 234

  • I explode fast
  • I avoid confrontation if I can, but it eats me for days
  • I try to reply in a cultured manner, as shortly as possible
  • I am glad to hear questions and I try to show them the connections between things
  • I answer questions, I ignore heckling

17. How old are you?

Age (years). Total number of answers given: 240, evaluable: 235

average age: 30,60851064 years

maximum age: 89

minimum age: 14

Summing it up...

The preparation, dispatching, distribution of the survey, the monitoring of the progress, following how the answers arrived and every phase of the evaluation was incredibly exciting and full of consequences. Subtracting the obvious duplications from the 242 answers 236 persons filled the survey. One reason for the duplication can be (besides the never excludable purposefulness) that somebody wished to correct his/her previous answers. The google survey did not allow this and took each try for a new individual. Where the duplication was obvious I ignored the duplicated answers and I haven't calculated them into the result. Empty answers were also disregarded.

At places it would have been more fortunate to separate the topics within a question, like when asking if one is missing meat or diary. By my experience it's quite rare that people miss meat, and there are more people who have cravings after dairy, especially the newbie vegans. It's probably because of the kazomorphin and the habit, plus the pressure of the society and its eat-diary-you-need-it kind of mentality.

Regarding the tofu and its comrades I feel that the expression 'meat-substitute' is a bit unfortunate, as the word 'substitute' presupposes some kind of insufficiency - though there is none. There is no meat that should be replaced. I think we only only call them like this because we use them instead of meat when cooking our old recipes. The same goes on 'vegetable cheese', 'grain sausage', or 'vegetable rissoles'. These are all of full value items with total raison d'etre on their own right.

As I keep thinking other possible questions come into my mind: about vegetable milk (who makes it at home and who buys ready-made ones, and which type is preferred), about egg-replacements, about gluten and other sensitivity (attention to them while preparing food), taking vitamins, checking ingredients of drugs, making smoothies, knowledge of alternate ingredients (like chia seeds), having pets (that do or don't consume meat), about vegetarianism prior becoming vegan (if yes, for how long).

It would have been also good to ask where one gathers the recipes from, or is there any particular cuisine he/she prefers. Well, and I should have asked about the gender of the answerer - I only noticed afterwards that I forgot this. I suppose that most of them are females, alas, I have no data about this. Maybe next time! Still I feel I have learned a lot from these questions & answers, and I guess that others who plan to create similar surveys in the future can find them useful.

Among the reasons to go vegan the ethical reason leads the line, closely followed by the health and the emotional motivation. The spiritual reason ended up as the last choice. Looking at the source of inspiration the first is the information acqiured from internet, along with first hand experience and films on animal exploitation. After the top three came the presentation, the influence of a friend, and lastly an admired (and spposedly famous) personality.

What we have learned from the survey covers quite well what we have suspected: being vegan is not any hard, and the majority of vegans feel quite fine after making the change. Financially we don't get crushed, and although the vegan products are often expensive, we don't need all of them on a daily basis. A resourceful and clever vegan is able to get good quality food on his or her plate in a cost-efficient way.

In the field of buying vegan items and cleansing stuff there is plenty of room left for improvement. But, before we'd jump to make a judgement over those who don't pay attention to use them, mind, that vegan and cruelty-free items (clothing, shoes, etc.) are not available everywhere and it takes a lot of investigation to find them up. Thirdly, their prices aren't too consumer-friendly either. Among people who live off shorter salaries it is crucial to choose affordable items and they do care where a 3 pounds - 5 dollar goes. This is true in Hungary where average wages are 1/3 or 1/10 of Western wages, while the prices are not significantly lower. It's a good idea to keep our eyes skinned for discount actions in groceries and webshops, that may be a solution to this problem.

In the competition of 'meat-substitutes' the tofu achieved to get the bulk of the votes rendering the other nominees far behind. The second place was won by the vegetable rissoles which include the ever-loved falafel, bean-balls and other yummi rissoles. At its heels came the seitan (aka wheat-meat), then the grain sausage and a bit behind them the soy family: soy sausage, soy cold cuts, soy cubes, soy granulate. Most of these are quite affordable options, certainly, that explains their popularity. On the rear we see the poor tempeh, people use it the least. This is no wonder, it is not easy to find tempeh in the stores. But if one tries it, there is a good chance that he/she will come to like it - that happened to me. Some answerers chose a food type and X-ed the 'I don't use any' option. At these answers I ignored the 'I don't use any' answer, seeing they are obviously using something.

In monthly breakdown the month when people go vegan in the highest number is January, probably they do it as a new year's resolution. It truly surprised me to notice that the youngest answerer is 14 years old and that the oldest is 89! Also, the earliest date when somebody went vegan is the January of 1953, while some chose to be vegan in the 80's. though In those times this lifestyle was absolutely not supported! It is amazing, and I whole-heartedly congratulate them.

Seeing the age information of vegans we find that the vast majority falls between the ages of 15-40 years. This is fairly realistic, as the information on veganism became widespread only in the latest decades. The same can be observed in the distribution of the date of going vegan: most people went vegan within the last 10 years. As we progress in time their number is increasing and from 2010 it grows almost exponentially.

I feel that I could extract a lot of useful information. I thank all the participiants for taking the time and answering my questions, helping me to collect data. I wish them happy and plentiful vegan days, bright health and a blessed, long life!

by Annamaria Marta Fueredi