Jacqueline Mary Irene Torti The Social and Psychological Well-Being of Vegetarians: A Focused...

download Jacqueline Mary Irene Torti The Social and Psychological Well-Being of Vegetarians: A Focused Ethnography

of 290

  • date post

    12-Oct-2020
  • Category

    Documents

  • view

    0
  • download

    0

Embed Size (px)

Transcript of Jacqueline Mary Irene Torti The Social and Psychological Well-Being of Vegetarians: A Focused...

  • The Social and Psychological Well-Being of Vegetarians: A Focused

    Ethnography

    by

    Jacqueline Mary Irene Torti

    A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

    Doctor of Philosophy

    in

    PUBLIC HEALTH

    School of Public Health

    University of Alberta

    © Jacqueline Mary Irene Torti, 2017

  • ii

    Abstract

    Background: A vegetarian is a person who refrains from eating any type of

    animal flesh. Research has been established on the physical health implications of

    adopting a vegetarian diet. However, to date, there has been no qualitative study

    exploring social and psychological well-being of vegetarians.

    Purpose: The purpose of this thesis was a) to provide a systematic review of the

    existing studies on the psychological well-being of vegetarians and b) to conduct

    original research that further explored the following: i) vegetarians’ rationales for

    adopting their diet, ii) their self-perceived social well-being, and, iii) their self-

    perceived psychological well-being.

    Methods: a) The systematic review involved searching several databases for

    primary research studies that examined the psychological well-being of

    vegetarians. Titles and abstracts were screened for relevance to the review and

    then full texts of those articles considered potentially relevant were screened. The

    quality of the selected studies was assessed using Health Evidence Bulletins

    (Wales) questions to assist with the critical appraisal of an observational study. b)

    After a pilot study was conducted, a focused ethnographic approach was utilized

    to conduct this research. Data were collected through 19 individual interviews,

    three focus groups, as well as a series of participant observations at several vegan-

    and vegetarian-association events in Alberta. Interviews and focus groups were

    tape recorded and transcribed verbatim, fieldnotes were taken during participant

    observations and materials were collected. Data were then analyzed using

    qualitative content analysis.

  • iii

    Results: a) After reviewing our search for relevant articles, seven studies were

    identified for inclusion in this study- all of which were cross-sectional. One study

    had low risk and one study had moderate risk of bias (both reported poorer health

    in vegetarians). Five studies (with inconsistent findings) had high risk of bias.

    Most differences in mental health measures were small and of doubtful clinical

    significance. b) Individuals decided to become vegetarian for a variety of reasons

    including improved personal health, improved animal welfare, and reduced

    environmental impact through diet. Vegetarians experienced many social

    challenges, including being teased and dealing with unsupportive friends and

    family, which could pose a threat to their social well-being. However, vegetarians

    also experienced many psychological rewards including a sense of pride and

    peace of mind knowing their values aligned with their actions.

    Conclusion: There is little available evidence on the psychological well-being of

    vegetarians. Most studies have high risk of bias, and the evidence that does exist

    is inconsistent, although the higher quality studies suggest poorer psychological

    well-being among vegetarians. Further research is needed to investigate whether a

    causal relationship exists between vegetarianism and mental health. Individuals

    become vegetarian for a variety of reasons. Others may not agree with their diet

    choice and this can affect their self-perceived social well-being. However, the

    self-perceived benefits to psychological well-being associated with adopting a

    vegetarian diet seem to outweigh any of the perceived threats to their social well-

    being.

  • iv

    Preface

    The pilot study of this thesis located in Appendix A led to an accepted publication: Torti

    J, Mayan M, Carroll L. (2016). A Pilot Study of Vegetarian Motivations and Social Well-

    Being. University of Alberta Health Sciences Journal. I was responsible for data

    collection and analysis as well as the manuscript composition. Mayan M and Carrol L

    contributed to the interpretation of the results and manuscript edits and provided final

    approval of the accepted manuscript.

    This thesis is an original work by Jacqueline Torti. The research project, of which

    this thesis is a part, received research ethics approval from the University of

    Alberta Research Ethics Board, Project Name “THE SOCIAL AND

    PSYCHOLOGCAL WELL-BEING OF VEGETARIANS: A FOCUSED

    ETHNOGRPAHY”, No. Pro00043423, DECEMBER 13, 2013.

  • v

    Dedication

    “Food serves two parallel purposes: it nourishes and it helps you remember.

    Eating and storytelling are inseparable—the saltwater is also tears; the honey not

    only tastes sweet, but makes us think of sweetness; the matzo is the bread of our

    affliction.” ~Johnathan Safran Foer

  • vi

    Acknowledgements

    It is a pleasure to thank the many people who made this thesis possible.

    I am deeply thankful to my PhD supervisor, Dr. Linda Carroll. Her enthusiasm,

    kindness, inspiration, encouragement, guidance and support from the initial to the

    final stages of this thesis were immeasurable. Dr. Carroll helped me grow as a

    researcher, an academic and as a person.

    I am grateful to my committee members Dr. Maria Mayan and Professor Timothy

    Caulfield. Their advice, dedication and expertise were an invaluable contribution

    to my thesis and my PhD. I want to thank Dr. Mayan for enhancing my

    understanding of, but also my passion for qualitative research. I also want to

    thank Professor Caulfield for making me think critically about each stage of the

    research process.

    I would like to acknowledge the vegetarians who participated in this study. I

    appreciate the time they took to share their experiences and their journey with

    vegetarianism. Without them, this thesis would not be possible.

    I would like to acknowledge the doctoral support provided by the University of

    Alberta Doctoral Recruitment Scholarship, the University of Alberta Doctoral

    Dissertation Fellowship, Charles WB Gravett Memorial Scholarships, and Queen

    Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarships.

  • vii

    Table of Contents

    Chapter 1: Introduction ........................................................................................... 1 Vegetarianism ................................................................................................................. 1 Health and Well-Being ................................................................................................... 8 Implications of Diet on Physical Well-Being ............................................................... 10 Implications of Diet on Social and Psychological Well-Being .................................... 10 Purpose of this Research............................................................................................... 11 Justification for This Research ..................................................................................... 11 Positioning Myself ........................................................................................................ 14 Thesis Organization ...................................................................................................... 19

    Chapter 2: Literature Review ................................................................................ 21 Rationales Behind a Vegetarian Diet ............................................................................ 21 Physical Well-Being of Vegetarians ............................................................................. 24 Social Well-Being of Vegetarians ................................................................................ 29 Psychological Well-Being of Vegetarians .................................................................... 33

    Chapter 3: A Systematic Review of the Psychological Well-Being of Vegetarians

    ............................................................................................................................... 36 Abstract......................................................................................................................... 36 Introduction .................................................................................................................. 38 Methods ........................................................................................................................ 40 Search Results .............................................................................................................. 48 Critical Appraisal Results ............................................................................................. 50 Discussion ..................................................................................................................... 56 Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 57

    Chapter 4: The Interpretive Paradigm and Th