Sustained efforts and collective claims: the social influence of the vegan movement from 1944 to present



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Kansas State University


Following a strict form of vegetarianism, vegans adopt a philosophy and practice a lifestyle that seeks to eliminate the use of all animal products and by-products in any form. Although vegetarian diets have been popular in many cultures for centuries, a more organized and defined version of veganism as we know it today did not emerge until the mid-1940s. Although the origins and nature of vegetarianism and veganism have been researched in depth for decades, this lifestyle has scarcely been evaluated as a social movement. Therefore, I seek to fill this gap in knowledge and describe veganism as a social movement and evaluate its social effects. I have gathered historical and sociological data and theories from a variety of sources. I combine this data in order to thoroughly illustrate the history, nature, and future of vegans as a social movement and show how it has contributed to social change. The sociological definitions of what constitutes a social movement as described by Charles Tilly and Sidney Tarrow will illustrate the many ways vegans can be viewed as a social movement. A synthesis of these two social scientists’ definitions in the analysis of vegans as a social movement will show that vegans meet both Tilly and Tarrow’s criteria for a social movement. I will use these criteria as a framework to show how vegans’ activity and growth fit into Tilly and Tarrow’s theoretical outline for what constitutes a social movement. Further, I use other evidence such as polls and news articles in order to support this idea, showing the movement behaviors of vegans in Western culture.



Veganism, Vegan, Social movements, Vegetarianism

Graduation Month



Master of Arts


Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work

Major Professor

Robert K. Schaeffer