According to a newly published study, children who have a variety of pets as children are more likely to follow a vegetarian diet as adults.
The study, led by State University of Albany psychologist Sydney Heiss, surveyed 325 young adults about their diet and their history of owning pets.
Heiss said the study found that those who had been exposed to more types of pet animals as children consumed fewer animal products as adults. The adults in the study who had a variety of pets as children were also more likely to have positive attitudes toward animals and were more likely to be morally opposed to the exploitation of animals.
“Individuals who grew up around a greater variety of pets were more likely to engage in greater degrees of meat avoidance in adulthood,” said Heiss.
“Past studies have shown that childhood pet ownership predicts the likelihood of adherence to a vegetarian diet in adulthood,” explained Heiss. “Building on this research, we tested the hypothesis that the number of different types of pets owned in childhood is positively associated with degree of restriction of animal products in adulthood, and that this relationship is mediated by pro-animal attitudes.”
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A previous study in 2014 had similar results, finding that children with pets had a higher chance of choosing a vegetarian diet.
That study’s author, Hank Rothgerber, cited empathy for animals as a reason for the link.
“Once an individual feels empathy toward animals, it makes it harder to eat animals,” said Rothgerber. “For these individuals [who get attached to their pets as kids], the love they feel toward their childhood pet(s) was likely so strong that they have a hard time not seeing some aspect of their companion animal in the meat that they wish to avoid.”
Heiss added that further research should be done around the way pet ownership and the decision to follow a vegetarian diet are related.
“The possibility that an enhanced ability to generalize empathy from companion to laboratory, farm, and wildlife animals underlies this relationship should be examined in future research,” said the psychologist.
Healthy Meals To Get You Started On A Plant-Based Diet!
Are you a pet owner considering going veg? We’ve got a bunch of simple recipes to help you get started on the Food Monster App. Here are a few easy-to-make plant-based recipes.
This plant-based Ooey-Gooey Grilled Cheese by Christina Bedetta is a nostalgic throwback to childhood that’s perfect for a quick, easy lunch. You can add anything you want to it, from avocado, caramelized onions, and tomatoes. The sky’s the limit with this tasty sandwich!
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Lead Image Source: Carolina Barría Kemp