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

E J Lea, D Crawford, A Worsley
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2006, 60 (7): 828-37

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.

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