Background: Vegetarian nutrition is gaining increasing public attention worldwide. While some studies have examined differences in motivations and personality traits between vegetarians and omnivores, only few studies have considered differences in motivations and personality traits between the 2 largest vegetarian subgroups: lacto-ovo-vegetarians and vegans. Objectives: To examine differences between lacto-ovo-vegetarians and vegans in the distribution patterns of motives, values, empathy, and personality profiles. Methods: An anonymous online survey was performed in January 2014. Group differences between vegetarians and vegans in their initial motives for the choice of nutritional approaches, health-related quality of life (World Health Organization Quality of Life-BREF (WHOQOL-BREF)), personality traits (Big Five Inventory-SOEP (BFI-S)), values (Portraits Value Questionnaire (PVQ)), and empathy (Empathizing Scale) were analyzed by univariate analyses of covariance; P values were adjusted for multiple testing. Results: 10,184 individuals completed the survey; 4,427 (43.5%) were vegetarians and 4,822 (47.3%) were vegans. Regarding the initial motives for the choice of nutritional approaches, vegans rated food taste, love of animals, and global/humanitarian reasons as more important, and the influence of their social environment as less important than did vegetarians. Compared to vegetarians, vegans had higher values on physical, psychological, and social quality of life on the WHOQOL-BREF, and scored lower on neuroticism and higher on openness on the BFI-S. In the PVQ, vegans scored lower than vegetarians on power/might, achievement, safety, conformity, and tradition and higher on self-determination and universalism. Vegans had higher empathy than vegetarians (all p < 0.001). Discussion: This survey suggests that vegans have more open and compatible personality traits, are more universalistic, empathic, and ethically oriented, and have a slightly higher quality of life when compared to vegetarians. Given the small absolute size of these differences, further research is needed to evaluate whether these group differences are relevant in everyday life and can be confirmed in other populations.

Craig WJ, Mangels AR, American Dietetic Association: Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets. J Am Diet Assoc 2009;109:1266-1282.
Ruby MB: Vegetarianism. A blossoming field of study. Appetite 2012;58:141-150.
Beardsworth AD, Keil ET: Vegetarianism, veganism, and meat avoidance: recent trends and findings. Br Food J 1991;93:19-24.
Beardsworth A, Keil T: The vegetarian option: varieties, conversions, motives and careers. Sociol Rev 1992;40:253-293.
Rothgerber H: Underlying differences between conscientious omnivores and vegetarians in the evaluation of meat and animals. Appetite 2015;87:251-258.
The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog: How often do Americans eat vegetarian meals? And how many adults in the U.S. are vegetarian? 18/how-often-do-americans-eat-vegetarian-meals-and-how-many-adults-in-the-u-s-are-vegetarian, 2012.
Samuelson G: Global strategy on diet, physical activity and health. Food Nutr Res 2004;48:57.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO): Human vitamin and mineral requirements. Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation, Bangkok, Thailand. Rome, FAO, 2001.
Baron RB: Should we all be vegetarians? JAMA Intern Med 2013;173:1238-1239.
Corliss R: Should we all be vegetarians? Would we be healthier? Would the planet? The risks and benefits of a meat-free life. Time 2002;160:48.
Carus F: UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet. The Guardian, 2010/jun/02/un-report-meat-free-diet.
Orlich MJ et al.: Vegetarian dietary patterns and mortality in Adventist Health Study 2. JAMA Intern Med 2013;173:1230-1238.
Vegetarianism. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia,
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO): Fruit and vegetables for health. Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Workshop, 1-3 September, 2004, Kobe, Japan. iah/online/?IsisScript=iah/iah.xis&amp;src=google&amp;base= REPIDISCA&amp;lang=p&amp;nextAction=lnk&amp;exprSearch= 176705&amp;indexSearch=ID, 2005.
Bündnis 90/Die Grünen: Bundestagswahlprogramm 2013 von Bündnis 90/Die Grünen. Kapitel I. Intakte Umwelt und gesunde Ernährung für alle. Wahlprogramm-barrierefrei.pdf, 2013.
Robert-Koch-Institut: Gesundheitsberichterstattung des Bundes. Gesundheit in Deutschland. Content/Gesundheitsmonitoring/Gesundheitsberichterstattung/GesInDtld/gesundheitsbericht.pdf, 2006.
Anonymous: Der Veggietag global., 2014.
Rothgerber H: Can you have your meat and eat it too? Conscientious omnivores, vegetarians, and adherence to diet. Appetite 2014;84C:196-203.
Beezhold B, Radnitz C, Rinne A, DiMatteo J: Vegans report less stress and anxiety than omnivores. Nutr Neurosci 2015;18:289-296.
Leitzmann C: Vegetarian nutrition: past, present, future. Am J Clin Nutr 2014;100(suppl 1):496S-502S.
European Vegetarian Union: How many Veggies?, 2013.
In U.S., 5% consider themselves vegetarians. www. aspx.
Vegetarianism in America. Vegetarian Times,, 2008.
UK Food Standards Agency: Public attitudes to food issues.
Vegetarianism by country. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, Vegetarianism_by_country&amp;oldid=628563749, 2014.
Yadav Y, Kumar S: The food habits of a nation. THE HINDU,, 2006.
Nationale Verzehrs Studie II - Ergebnisbericht, Teil 1. Karlsruhe, Max-Rubner-Institut, 2008.
Cordts A, Spiller A, Nitzko S, Grethe H, Duman N: Fleischkonsum in Deutschland. uploads/media/Artikel_FleischWirtschaft_07_2013.pdf, 2013.
Anonymous: Yougov-Umfrage. Der Fleischkonsum steigt mit dem Einkommen. Zeit Online,, 2013.
Vegetarierbund Deutschland: Anzahl der Vegetarier in Deutschland., 2014.
The Vegetarian Resource Group: How many vegetarians are there?, 2000.
Loma Linda University - School of Public Health: Adventist Health Studies. Lifestyle, diet and disease., 2014.
Michaëlsson K et al.: Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies. BMJ 2014;349:g6015.
American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada: Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: vegetarian diets. J Am Diet Assoc 2003;103:748-765.
Craig WJ: Nutrition concerns and health effects of vegetarian diets. Nutr Clin Pract 2010;25:613-620.
Appleby PN, Thorogood M, Mann JI, Key TJ: The Oxford Vegetarian Study: an overview. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;70:525S-531S.
Ruby MB, Heine SJ, Kamble S, Cheng TK, Waddar M: Compassion and contamination. Cultural differences in vegetarianism. Appetite 2013;71:340-348.
Preece R: Sins of the flesh. A history of ethical vegetarian thought. Vancouver, UBC Press, 2008.
De Backer CJS, Hudders L: From meatless Mondays to meatless Sundays: motivations for meat reduction among vegetarians and semi-vegetarians who mildly or significantly reduce their meat intake. Ecol Food Nutr 2014;53:639-657.
Brinkman BG, Khan A, Edner B, Rosén LA: Self-objectification, feminist activism and conformity to feminine norms among female vegetarians, semi-vegetarians, and non-vegetarians. Eat Behav 2014;15:171-174.
Dyett PA, Sabaté J, Haddad E, Rajaram S, Shavlik D: Vegan lifestyle behaviors: an exploration of congruence with health-related beliefs and assessed health indices. Appetite 2013;67:119-124.
Hoffman SR, Stallings SF, Bessinger RC, Brooks GT: Differences between health and ethical vegetarians. Strength of conviction, nutrition knowledge, dietary restriction, and duration of adherence. Appetite 2013;65:139-144.
Bobić J, Cvijetić S, Barić IC, Satalić Z: Personality traits, motivation and bone health in vegetarians. Coll Antropol 2012;36:795-800.
Haverstock K, Forgays DK: To eat or not to eat. A comparison of current and former animal product limiters. Appetite 2012;58:1030-1036.
Proch J: Ergebnisse der Vegetarierstudie., 2007.
Mitte K, Kämpfe-Hargrave N: Vegetarierstudie der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena. www.vegetarierstudie., 2007.
Fox N, Ward K: Health, ethics and environment: a qualitative study of vegetarian motivations. Appetite 2008;50:422-429.
Lindeman M, Sirelius M: Food choice ideologies: the modern manifestations of normative and humanist views of the world. Appetite 2001;37:175-184.
Rozin P, Markwith M, Stoess C: Moralization and becoming a vegetarian: the transformation of preferences into values and the recruitment of disgust. Psychol Sci 1997;8:67-73.
Beardsworth A, Keil T: Health-related beliefs and dietary practices among vegetarians and vegans: a qualitative study. Health Educ J 1991;50:38-42.
Jabs J, Devine CM, Sobal J: Model of the process of adopting vegetarian diets: health vegetarians and ethical vegetarians. J Nutr Educ 1998;30:196-202.
Forestell CA, Spaeth AM, Kane SA: To eat or not to eat red meat. A closer look at the relationship between restrained eating and vegetarianism in college females. Appetite 2012;58:319-325.
Ruby MB, Heine SJ: Meat, morals, and masculinity. Appetite 2011;56:447-450.
Rothgerber H: Efforts to overcome vegetarian-induced dissonance among meat eaters. Appetite 2014;79:32-41.
Beezhold BL, Johnston CS: Restriction of meat, fish, and poultry in omnivores improves mood: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Nutr J 2012;11:9.
Beezhold BL, Johnston CS, Daigle DR: Vegetarian diets are associated with healthy mood states: a cross-sectional study in seventh day adventist adults. Nutr J 2010;9:26.
Timko CA, Hormes JM, Chubski J: Will the real vegetarian please stand up? An investigation of dietary restraint and eating disorder symptoms in vegetarians versus non-vegetarians. Appetite 2012;58:982-990.
Deriemaeker P, Aerenhouts D, De Ridder D, Hebbelinck M, Clarys P: Health aspects, nutrition and physical characteristics in matched samples of institutionalized vegetarian and non-vegetarian elderly (> 65yrs). Nutr Metab 2011;8:37.
Filippi M et al.: The brain functional networks associated to human and animal suffering differ among omnivores, vegetarians and vegans. PloS One 2010;5: e10847.
Greene-Finestone LS, Campbell MK, Evers SE, Gutmanis IA: Attitudes and health behaviours of young adolescent omnivores and vegetarians: a school-based study. Appetite 2008;51:104-110.
Veser P, Taylor K, Singer S, Griffith C: Diet, authoritarianism, social dominance orientation, and predisposition to prejudice - results of a German survey. Br Food J 2015;117:1949-1960.
Allen MW, Wilson M, Ng SH, Dunne M: Values and beliefs of vegetarians and omnivores. J Soc Psychol 2000;140:405-422.
Bilewicz M, Imhoff R, Drogosz M: The humanity of what we eat: conceptions of human uniqueness among vegetarians and omnivores. Eur J Soc Psychol 2011;41:201-209.
Larsson CL, Rönnlund U, Johansson G, Dahlgren L: Veganism as status passage: the process of becoming a vegan among youths in Sweden. Appetite 2003;41:61-67.
Taufen A: An open letter to militant vegans. 5739899, 2011.
Dr. Joel Marks on his amoral veganism.
Anonymous: Militant vegans. Real Life Villains Wiki,, 2015.
Francione GL: No, ethical veganism is not extreme. Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach, www., 2010.
Anonymous: The Lazy Vegan Blog: How do you handle ‘militant' vegans and vegetarians? http://thelazyveganblog. vegans-and.html, 2007.
Anonymous: The militant vegan. www.themilitantvegan. com, 2014.
Anonymous: To abolitionist vegans (and moralists) by Pinhead. To-Abolitionist-Vegans-and-Moralists-by-Pinhead (last accessed November 2014).
Grau A: Veganer sind moralische Totalitaristen. sind-moralische-totalitaristen/57512, 2014.
Howard M: Nutritional fanaticism II: the vegan extreme. the_vegan_extreme.php (last accessed November 2014).
Anonymous: Me. Oops, I'm a vegan. www.oopsimavegan. com/me.html (last accessed November 2014).
Pilgrim VE: Zehn Gründe, kein Fleisch mehr zu essen. Reinbek, Rowohlt, 1992.
McFarland S: Authoritarianism, social dominance, and other roots of generalized prejudice. Polit Psychol 2010;31:453-477.
Minson JA, Monin B: Do-gooder derogation disparaging morally motivated minorities to defuse anticipated reproach. Soc Psychol Personal Sci 2012;3:200-207.
Surveymonkey. Umfragen erstellen. Antworten erhalten., 2014.
VegMed Congress. Ärztekongress - Vegetarische Ernährung und Medizin für Ärzte und Medizinstudierende., 2014.
World Health Organization (WHO): Management of substance abuse. WHO Quality of Life-BREF (WHOQOL-BREF). research_tools/whoqolbref/en, 2014.
Stieglitz R-D, Angermeyer MC, Kilian R, Matschinger H: WHOQOL-100 und WHOQOL-BREF. Handbuch für die deutschsprachige Version der WHO-Instrumente zur Erfassung von Lebensqualität. Z Klin Psychol Psychother 2001;30:138-138.
Lang FR, John D, Lüdtke O, Schupp J, Wagner GG: Short assessment of the Big Five: robust across survey methods except telephone interviewing. Behav Res Methods 2011;43:548-567.
Schmidt P, Bamberg S, Davidov E: Die Messung von Werten mit dem Portraits Value Questionnaire. Z Sozialpsychol 2007;38:261-275.
Samson AC, Huber OW: Short German versions of empathizing and systemizing self-assessment scales. Swiss J Psychol 2010;69:239-244.
Fraser GE, Welch A, Luben R, Bingham SA, Day NE: The effect of age, sex, and education on food consumption of a middle-aged English cohort - EPIC in East Anglia. Prev Med 2000;30:26-34.
Beardsworth A, Bryman A: Meat consumption and vegetarianism among young adults in the UK: an empirical study. Br Food J 1999;101:289-300.
Neumark-Sztainer D, Story M, Resnick MD, Blum RW: Adolescent vegetarians: a behavioral profile of a school-based population in Minnesota. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 1997;151:833-838.
Worsley A, Skrzypiec G: Teenage vegetarianism: prevalence, social and cognitive contexts. Appetite 1998;30:151-170.
Santos ML, Booth DA: Influences on meat avoidance among British students. Appetite 1996;27:197-205.
Braun J, Blickle P: Wer isst was?, 2013.
You do not currently have access to this content.