The Politics and the Demographics of Veganism: Notes for a Critical Analysis

  • Dario MartinelliEmail author
  • Aušra Berkmanienė


The present essay aims to offer some reflections concerning the cultural and political aspects of veganism, on the basis of the available surveys and statistics, plus some more gathered by the authors—with the tools of different methodologies, including the semiotic one. After an introduction to veganism as phenomenon and movement, with general reflections and also a number of specific data, the essay proceeds to focus on the more political aspects, with an emphasis on some of the most intriguing and multifaceted data, such as the prevalence of female gender, leftist political inclinations and atheism within the vegan community. While the first connection has already been widely discussed (and to our mind, proved) since the times of Adams (The sexual politics of meat: a feminist-vegetarian critical theory, Continuum, New York, 1990), much less has been said (particularly at academic level) about the significance leftist ideologies and atheism within veganism. Moreover, within the domain of semiotics, this topic is entirely unexplored.


Veganism Ideology Animal rights Demographics Politics Environment 


  1. 1.
    Adams, Carol J. 1990. The sexual politics of meat: A feminist-vegetarian critical theory. New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Alexandratos, Nikos and Jelle Bruinsma. 2012. World agriculture towards 2030–2050. Food and Agriculture Organization. Accessed 30 Sept 2017.
  3. 3.
    Angus Reid Institute. 2015. Religion and faith in Canada today: Strong belief, ambivalence and rejection define our views. Accessed 30 Sept 2017.
  4. 4.
    Bankov, Kristian. 2004. Infinite Semiosis and Resistance. In From nature to psyche. Proceedings from the ISI summer congresses at Imatra in 2001–2002, ed. Eero Tarasti, 175–181. Helsinki: International Semiotics Institute.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Barthes, Roland. 1957. Mythologies. Paris: Editions de Seuil.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Berry, Rynn. 2005. Hitler: Neither vegetarian nor animal lover. New York: Pythagorean Books.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bobbio, Norberto. 1994/2004. Destra e sinistra: ragioni e significati di una distinzione politica. Roma: Donzelli.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bopry, Jeanette. 2002. Semiotics, Epistemology, and Inquiry. Teaching and Learning 17(1): 5–18.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bullock, Alan. 1999/1952. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny. New York: Konecky & Konecky.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Carlisle, Rodney P. (ed.). 2005. Encyclopedia of left and right, vol. 2. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Clark, Gillian (trans.) 2000. Porphyry. On Abstinence from Killing Animals. London: Duckworth.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Dean, Tamara. 2015. The water behind your meat & potatoes. Accessed 30 Sept 2017.
  13. 13.
    Eco, Umberto. 1968. La struttura assente. Milan: Bompiani.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    FAO. 2006. Livestock’s long shadow. Environmental issues and options. Accessed 28 Sept 2017.
  15. 15.
    FAOstat. 2014. Livestock primary. Accessed 15 Sept 2017.
  16. 16.
    FishCount. 2011. Fish count estimates. Accessed 15 Sept 2017.
  17. 17.
    Freston, Kathy. 2011. Veganist. New York: Weinstein Publishing.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Fuso, Silvano. 2016. Naturale = Buono? Roma: Carrocci.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Galli, Giorgio. 2010. Perché ancora destra e sinistra. Roma: Laterza.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Gendron, Charlotte. 2015. Less than half of millennial women identify as “feminist”. Accessed 30 Sept 2017.
  21. 21.
    GlobalData. 2017. Top trends in prepared foods 2017: Exploring trends in meat, fish and seafood; pasta, noodles and rice; prepared meals; savory deli food; soup; and meat substitutes (survey). Accessed 30 Sept 2017.
  22. 22.
    Grant, Catherine. 2006. The no-nonsense guide to animal rights. Oxford: New Internationalist.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Habermas, Jürgen. 1998. The inclusion of the other. Studies in political theory. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Harris Poll. 2015. The vegetarian resource group—2015 national survey (survey). Accessed 30 Sept 2017.
  25. 25.
    Hodge, Robert, and Gunther Kress. 1988. Social semiotics. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Hodge, Robert, and Gunther Kress. 1993. Language as ideology. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Humane Research Council. 2014. Study of current and former vegetarians and vegans. Initial findings, December 2014 (survey). Accessed 30 Sept 2017.
  28. 28.
    Iacobbo, Karen, and Michael Iacobbo. 2006. Vegetarians and vegans in America today. Santa Barbara: Greenwood Publishing Group.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
  30. 30.
    Larsen, Janet. 2012. Meat consumption in China now double that in the United States. Earth Policy Institute. Accessed 30 Sept 2017.
  31. 31.
    Leichman, Abigail Klein. 2017. Israel has most vegans per capita and the trend is growing. Israel 21c. 26 March 2017. Accessed 30 Sept 2017.
  32. 32.
    Lipka, Michael. 2016. U.S. religious groups and their political leanings. Accessed 30 Sept 2017.
  33. 33.
    Madiran, Jean. 1977. La droite et la gauche. Paris: Nouvelles Éditions latines.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Martinelli, Dario. 2008. The Ethic Imperative in Eero Tarasti’s semiotic path: Reflecting on the relationships between resistance and biocentrism. In A sounding of signs—modalities and moments in music, culture and philosophy, ed. R.S. Hatten, P. Kukkonen, R. Littlefield, H. Veivo, and I. Vierimaa. Helsinki: International Semiotics Institute.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Martinelli, Dario. 2010. A critical companion to zoosemiotics: People, paths, ideas. Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Martinelli, Dario. 2010. Aunthenticity, performance and other double-edged words: Essays on popular music. Helsinki-Imatra: International Semiotics Institute.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Maurer, Donna. 2002. Vegetarianism: Movement or moment?. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Meneley, Anne. 2004. Extra virgin olive oil and slow food. Anthropologica 6(2): 170–172.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Mensink, Gert B.M., et al. 2016. Prevalence of persons following a vegetarian diet in Germany. Journal of Health Monitoring 1(2): 2–14.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Mintel. 2017. Vegan food launches in Australia grew by 92% between 2014 and 2016 (survey). Accessed 30 Sept 2017.
  41. 41.
    Nibert, David. 2002. Animal rights, human rights. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Petrini, Carlo, and Gigi Padovani. 2005. Slow food. Storia di un’utopia possibile. Milan: Rizzoli.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Pimentel, David, and Marcia Pimentel. 2003. Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the environment. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 78(3): 660–663.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Priyakshi, Sarma. 2014. Beef production is killing the amazon rainforest. Accessed 19 Sept 2017.
  45. 45.
    Puskar-Pasewicz, Margaret. 2010. Cultural Encyclopaedia of Vegetarianism. Greenwood: Santa Barbara.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Rohrer, Finlo. 2009. The rise of the non-veggie vegetarian. BBC News Magazine, 5 November 2009. Accessed 9 Sept 2017.
  47. 47.
    Rosch, Eleanor, et al. 1978. Cognition and categorisation. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Rossi-Landi, Ferruccio. 1972. Semiotica e ideologia. Milan: Bompiani.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Roy Morgan Research. 2016. The slow but steady rise of vegetarianism in Australia (survey). Accessed 9 Sept 2017.
  50. 50.
    San Martin, Javier, and Maria L. Pintos. 2001. Animal life and phenomenology. In The reach of reflection: The future of phenomenology, ed. S. Crowell, E. Lester, and J.J. Samuel, 342–363. Memphis: Center for Advanced Research in Phenomenology.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Peter, Scarborough, et al. 2014. Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK. Climatic Change 125: 179–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Simonetti, Luigi. 2010. Mangi chi può, meno, meglio e piano. L’ideologia di slow food. Pagliai: Firenze.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Singer, Peter. 1999. A Darwinian Left. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Smith, Andrew F. 2013. Eating history. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Stano, Simona. 2015. Eating the other: Translations of the culinary code. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Stefani, Gino. 1985. Competenza musicale e cultura della pace. Bologna: Clueb.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Stefani, Gino. 1989. Musica con coscienza. Roma: Edizioni Paoline.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Stepaniak, Joanne. 2000. The vegan sourcebook. New York: McGraw Hill Professional.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Strimpel, Zoe. 2012. Why do so few men take gender studies courses?. The Guardian, 19 November 2012. Accessed 9 Sept 2017.
  60. 60.
    Tarasti, Eero. 1997. The emancipation of the sign: On the corporeal and gestural meanings in music. AS/SA 4: 180–190.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Tarasti, Eero. 2000. Existential semiotics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Tarasti, Eero. 2005. Vastarinnan semiotiikkaa: oleminen, muisti, historia—merkkien vastavirta. Synteesi 1: 2–29.Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    Voloshinov, Valentin. 1973. Marxism and the philosophy of language. New York: Seminar Press.Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Wakamiya, Atsuko. 2011. Fleisch frisst Fläche. Ökologie & Landbau 159(3): 40–42.Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Watson, Donald. 1944. Concerning ourselves. The Vegan News 1: 3.Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Watson, Donald. 1951. The new constitution. The Vegan VII(1): 2–3.Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Wright, Laura. 2015. Vegan studies. Food, animals and gender in the age of terror. Athens: University of Georgia Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Semiotics InstituteKaunas University of TechnologyKaunasLithuania

Personalised recommendations