Veganomics is a must-read for anyone interested in helping animals and promoting kind diets. Cooney’s 2013 book presents a comprehensive overview of existing research into who goes vegetarian or vegan and why. I started reading the book while I was on the train and the next thing I knew, I was at my destination and had read the first seventy pages. What’s particularly impressive is that the book presents statistic after statistic without being boring or dry, no small feat in itself.
The book has a positive message for not only activists and advocates, but vegans and vegetarians (a.k.a. veg*ns) as well. It feels good to read that research suggests that veg*ns are more empathetic, altruistic and intelligent. Cooney also includes some particularly unconventional research that has shown veg*ns may even smell better and be more likely to give oral sex!
In terms of advocacy, two themes recurred throughout a wide variety of research. First, people are not likely to go from meat-eater to vegan overnight and most people take time to first reduce their animal product consumption before going vegetarian and (hopefully) eventually vegan. Secondly, the primary reason people seem to be going veg*n is health. This may seem disheartening, as health is arguably the most self-centred reason one could go veg*n (as opposed to reducing animal suffering, environmental degradation or global poverty), but it is an important point for advocates to consider.
In spite of attempting to synthesise a broad spectrum of veg*n research, Cooney generally avoids making blanket statements and wide generalisations. Instead, he focuses on identifying trends that the research seems to suggest, presenting his findings as a starting point for further work and as a tool for advocates to be better informed. If you’re interested in improving your own activism or just increasing your own veg*n knowledge, your bookshelf is incomplete without a copy of Veganomics.