Original Article

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2006) 60, 828–837. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602387; published online 1 February 2006

Public views of the benefits and barriers to the consumption of a plant-based diet

Guarantor: EJ Lea.

Contributors: EJL collected and analysed the data. DC and AW assisted with design of the questionnaire. All authors contributed to interpretation of the data and to preparation of the manuscript.

E J Lea1, D Crawford1 and A Worsley1

1Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia

Correspondence: Dr EJ Lea, Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria 3125, Australia. E-mail: emma_lea@hotmail.com

Received 23 May 2005; Revised 24 October 2005; Accepted 2 December 2005; Published online 1 February 2006.

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Abstract

Objective:

 

The aim of this study was to examine consumers' perceived benefits and barriers to the consumption of a plant-based diet.

Design:

 

Mail survey that included questions on perceived benefits and barriers to the consumption of a plant-based diet.

Setting:

 

Victoria, Australia.

Subjects:

 

Four hundred and fifteen randomly selected Victorian adults.

Results:

 

The main perceived barrier to adoption of a plant-based diet was a lack of information about plant-based diets (42% agreement). Sex, age and education differences were present in over a quarter of the barrier items. For example, non-university-educated respondents and older people were less willing to change their current eating pattern than were university educated and younger respondents. The main benefits associated with plant-based diets were health benefits, particularly decreased saturated fat intake (79% agreement), increased fibre intake (76%), and disease prevention (70%). Age, sex and education differences with regard to benefits were apparent, although sex differences were more important than age or education differences.

Conclusions:

 

The majority of respondents perceived there to be health benefits associated with the consumption of a plant-based diet. Compared with the proportion of respondents who agreed that there were particular benefits of eating a plant-based diet, perceived barriers were relatively low. An understanding of the perceived benefits and barriers of consuming a plant-based diet will help formulate strategies that aim to influence beliefs about plant foods, plant food consumption, and, ultimately, public health.

Sponsorship:

 

Australian Research Council.

Keywords:

beliefs, benefits, barriers, plant-based diet, diet surveys, Australia

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