And Teddy Makes Three…

A year ago, I adopted a puppy from Paws Paleohora in Crete, who’s now one year old and still wants nothing more than to play all day.



Daisy gets to play with other dogs in the dog park every day, but clearly that’s not enough! So I decided to adopt another puppy from Paws Paleohora. This organisation does great work rescuing abandoned and stray dogs on the Greek island of Crete.

Daisy needed a friend to play with at home!







On August 25, 2014, Daisy and I waited patiently for the arrival of our new puppy.




6:30 PM: Phoebe – who I’ve renamed Teddy, because she reminds me of a Teddy Bear – arrives in Vienna, thirsty and hungry after a long flight.

According to the vet, she’s a “mixed breed.” Not sure which kinds, but I don’t care. She’s lovely and very shy in the beginning.




Getting to know each other…

Bedtime…still keeping the distance.





3:30 AM: Let’s Play!












6:00 AM: First walk on a leash. Daisy leads the way, and Teddy faithfully follows her.

They do like to eat, and pee and poop ( a lot), and they also sleep quite a bit. But mostly they just play…






…and play…



…and play…






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Market Research: What Vegetarians and Vegans Want (Part 6 – Reading Labels)

Note: All the market research articles are published in the category “What Vegans Want.”

In this article of my series on vegetarian and vegan market research I want to take you back to the year 1994. This was the year when I became aware that gelatine is an animal by-product. It is derived from collagen, a protein of various connective tissues in animals. It was also the year when I started to read labels and when I extended my boycott to processed foods.

From mid-1992 to mid-1993, I lived for a year as an Au Pair in Connecticut, where I spent all my free time at the movies. I remember buying massive amounts of Gummy Bears and other kinds of candy at the theater’s concession stand, many of which contained gelatine. I was blithely unaware of gelatine’s origins back then. More importantly, I had not yet begun to read labels.

copyright Margaret Norton/NBC

copyright Margaret Norton/NBC

All this changed when I moved to Los Angeles in the fall of 1994, where I’d enrolled in an MBA-programme at Woodbury University in Burbank, CA. The following year, I started an Internship at NBC Entertainment Press & Publicity in Burbank, CA, where I continued to work until my graduation in June 1996 and all through early 1997, when I decided to return to Austria.

At that point in my life I’d already progressed as a consumer: I bought organic dairy, eggs, yoghurt, and cheese – but not exclusively so. All that changed when I moved to California. I was unfamiliar with the food items at the supermarket, and therefore started to read labels straight away. I remember my shock when I read the ingredients list on a tub of yoghurt: it contained gelatine (and many more ingredients). Sometime before the fall of 1994 – when I started food shopping in Los Angeles – I had learned where gelatine came from and stopped buying it.

I read labels religiously during my time in California and stopped buying non-organic dairy, eggs, and cheese, and processed items that contained non-organic animal-derived ingredients. I was appalled and outright disgusted by what I read on many of the labels. Many of the ingredients on those labels where unrecognizable – and outright unpronounceable – to me. They did not exist in nature. I did not want to eat that kind of crap – which I simply didn’t consider “food.”

To this day, I read the labels of all new food items I buy, and occasionally re-read labels of items I have been buying for years. One never knows – the ingredients list might change. This is very time-consuming. As a result, I now buy very few processed foods, and cook most of my lunches & dinners from scratch. I only buy processed food items, if I recognize the ingredients and know where they come from.

My time in California marked another step in my evolution as a consumer. I made a decision to only buy organic dairy, eggs, and cheese (and not to buy gelatine) – and that decision now included processed foods.  I started to “make do without.”

I also bought more and more food at organic supermarkets, like Whole Foods, which in the mid-1990s already owned & operated several branches in the Los Angeles area. I had shopped at organic grocery stores in Vienna before I moved to Los Angeles, but the stores where all tiny compared to the Whole Foods markets, which were proper supermarkets. I could buy everything I needed there in organic quality, and I did: I now bought more and more organic fruits and vegetables, which had nothing to do with animal welfare reasons (my primary motivator for all shopping decisions). But I’d become aware of the issue of pesticides, and wanted to avoid them. In addition to animal welfare reasons, I now also cared about health issues. I rapidly evolved as a consumer.

What do my decisions at that time mean for vegetarian and vegan market researchers? When I started reading labels, all of a sudden literally thousands of food items ended up on my “boycott” list.

Also, when I started to shop more and more at organic supermarkets, and considerably less at the large well-known supermarket chains, many products stopped existing in my mind, as they were not available at Whole Foods supermarkets. I developed “tunnel vision,” only mentally registering those kinds of products that I would consider buying and which were available at organic supermarkets, and blocked out advertisement for products which didn’t meet my standards or which I didn’t see on the shelves at the supermarkets of my choice. I became immune to many food products which are advertised on television, in newspapers, and in magazines. I was well on my way of becoming a very selective consumer.

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Gasthaus Schillinger (Großmugl, Austria)

I finally made it to the vegan restaurant Schillinger last Sunday. The restaurant has a stellar reputation amongst vegans in Austria. I don’t think there’s a single vegan in the country who’s never heard of it. It is that famous.

So it was high time that I made the trek there myself. And it is quite a trek. Schillinger is located about an hour north of Vienna, in the county Lower Austria, in a tiny village called Großmugl. It is only accessible by car (there’s no train station in the village). As I don’t own a car, I never quite managed to make it all the way to Großmugl. But last Sunday I finally got my chance: a car, three people, and a motion-sick dog (who threw up thrice in the car during this trip) arrived at Schillinger at 4:30 PM in the afternoon – quite famished – and sampled the menu.

All the food at Schillinger is vegan, and there are many dishes to choose from. I am happy to report that the restaurant’s excellent reputation is justified.

Between the three of us, we shared two appetizers, a double-sized entree, and two desserts. I didn’t get to taste one of the appetizers, Frittatensuppe, but apparently it was very good (2.80 Euros including tax). Frittaten are crepes cut into small pieces, and Frittatensuppe is an Austrian specialty.

I ordered the fried (mock meat) “duck,” which was served hot. It was marinated in a soy & chilli sauce, and served with sweet peppers on a bed of salad. Very good! (4.90 Euros).



As an entree, the three of us shared the so-called “house plate,” meant for two people (24.00 Euros), which is basically a sampler of various mock meats with French fries, coleslaw, salad, and herb butter (all vegan, of course). The platter was so big, and there was so much food, even the three of us couldn’t quite finish it. It was delicious.

For dessert, we ordered panna cotta (with mango pulp, pistachios, and whipped cream (3.50 Euros), and tiramisu dumplings with strawberry pulp and a compote of peaches (4.50 Euros). I liked the tiramisu dumplings, but I loved the panna cotta.



All in all – food, plus three soft drinks, three glasses of wine, one double espresso -, we spent 55.10 Euros (including taxes), plus tips. The restaurant is so popular that guests kept showing up all through the afternoon to eat, and it started to really fill up when we left at about 6:30 PM. If you want to visit Schillinger – and you should – you absolutely have to send them an Email and make a reservation at least a week in advance.

The restaurant is currently owned by Karl “Charlie” Schillinger and his wife Irene. The restaurant first opened its doors in 1793 – that’s not a typo. Eight generations of “Schillinger” have continuously owned and managed the restaurant. The current owners decided to turn it into a vegan restaurant – due to huge demand. According to the information on their website, they first started cooking vegetarian dishes for friends, who told their friends about it, who spread the word even further, and so on. That’s why one of the best vegan restaurants in the country is located in a tiny village in Lower Austria. It’s a huge success story, and proof that there’s great demand for vegan restaurants everywhere.



Hauptstraße 46, 2002 Großmugl, Austria

Opening hours: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays & Saturdays: 9:00 AM – 1:00 AM; Thursdays 4:00 PM – 1:00 AM; Sundays 11:00 AM – 1:00 AM;

Reduced opening hours for the kitchen: Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Fridays: 12:00 noon – 2:00 PM and 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM; Thursdays 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM; Saturdays & Sundays: 12:00 noon – 11:00 PM

Phone: +43-(0)2268-6672

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Appaloosa Ranch (Dobruša, Slovenia)

AR-IMG_4895-300x200I was recently contacted by a reader from Slovenia, Dominique Artel, who asked if I could help promote her business, the Appaloosa Ranch. Dominique and her partner Andrej Zimic live at the ranch with their two children, two dogs, four cats, and seven horses. The parents and children are all vegans, and the Appaloosa Ranch is a vegan bed & breakfast.

I was a little hesitant at first, as I’ve never been to the Appaloosa Ranch myself, but there’s a lot of useful information on their website, there are many photos, and Dominique emailed me a lot of additional information – enough to convince me that their business should be supported. I am happy to help.

So here it is:

AR-herbstweidetag-300x179The Appaloosa Ranch is located in the small village of Dobruša, which belongs to the municipality of Vodice, about 15 km north of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

They have two rooms, for two people each. „The double-room is furnished with a double bed, a cupboard, a table with two chairs in an authentic ambience.“ If necessary, they can offer a baby crib. The second room is smaller and simply furnished, better suited for children or tourists who don’t mind more basic accommodation. There’s a bunk bed in the room. AR -April11-mit-Mutter-Spooky-300x200„The window offers a beautiful view of the horse pasture and the edge of the woods.“

There’s one bathroom for both rooms, accessible from the hall and next door to the guestrooms (shower, toilet and sink). „You will have access to a homelike saloon with a big cockle stove and a cosy couch. There is the possibility to play tabletop football too.“

Dominique and Andrej prepare a vegan breakfast for their guests. Among other things they offer „daily home-made fresh fullgrain spelt bread, green smoothies, fresh home-made spreads and jams, home-made sprouts and fresh organic vegetables from our garden.“AR-collage-vegan-food-300x300

They make their own ice cream, and you can also order vegan lunches or dinner. Most guests prefer to eat at a big table together with the family, but you can also enjoy your meals in a private atmosphere.

Dominique says that there are two vegan restaurants in Ljubljana (Loving Hut and Ajdova zrna), plus several vegetarian restaurants (Govinda’s, Falafel, Bistro Piknik).

The farmhouse is situated within six acreas of meadows and pastures (the hay is used to feed their horses), and they also own six acres of woods. The farmhouse is at least 200 years old. There’s WIFI, you can rent bikes, and your (well-behaved) dog is welcome at the farm, too, if you let them know in advance that you’re travelling with a dog.

AR -IMG_4127-300x225Of their seven horses, six belong to the Appaloosa breed. „The horses are living together in a group in a clean and adequate open stable and are very interested to get in contact with humans. With their interesting appearance they are a feast for the eyes. Any interest in the horses or some support from your side is very welcome. Possibilities for horseback riding are available.“

Check out their website (the “bed & breakfast” tab offers information in English) , and also their Facebook page. If you decideAR-eImpress-300x200 to vacation at the Appaloosa Ranch, I would appreciate your feedback for my readers – just leave a comment.

Good luck to Dominique, Andrej, and their family!

Contact information:
Dominique Artel & Andrej Zimic
Dobruša 3
1217 Vodice

: info(at)
+386 59 93 19 52
+386 41 91 55 57
+41 76 441 68 02

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Market Research: What Vegetarians and Vegans Want (Part 5 – Organic Shopping)

Note: All the market research articles are published in the category “What Vegans Want.”

I guess it’s clear to everyone by now that I didn’t manage to stick to my weekly Monday publishing schedule for the “market research: what vegetarians and vegans want”-series. What can I say? Life and (paying) work got in the way.

However, the prolonged break has helped me to restructure this series of articles. My original plan was to write about my evolution as a vegan consumer in a chronological manner. I now think it’s better to chronicle first my evolution as a consumer in regard to food shopping and restaurants, and then to describe other consumer decisions, for example in regard to clothes, cosmetics, shoes, etc. Needless to say, my evolution as a shopper wasn’t neat and orderly. Wearing fur was never an option; I was strictly opposed to animal research for cosmetics from a young age onwards, and joined the boycott against imported products from South Africa as a student in the late-1980s to fight apartheid. (No bananas for a year!). I was passionate about many causes, but I think I need a more structured approach to telling my evolution as a consumer, if I want market researchers to benefit from my experiences.

So today I’ll continue to describe my evolution from an ovo-lacto non-organic vegetarian to an organic vegan in terms of food.

In my last article I described the beginnings: shopping for organic eggs and milk at the supermarket and at health-food stores, but still buying non-organic eggs and milk, if the other kind wasn’t available. I also didn’t care, if processed foods contained non-organic milk and eggs, and if restaurants used non-organic milk and eggs when preparing my food.

What followed next? The opening of a small organic grocery store in 1986 by Josefine and Stefan Maran, two pioneers of the organic movement in Austria. Their store was just minutes away from where we lived in Vienna at the time, and my mother was one of their first customers. Organic food products became a household staple in our home. Organic brown rice, anyone? It took a while to figure out how to cook organic whole grains (no salt!).

In the summer of 1986, when I was 19 years old, I moved into my own apartment. For the first time in my life, I had to shop and cook my own food on a daily basis. I primarily cared about animal-derived products like milk, eggs, yoghurt, and cheese. Animal welfare issues were and still are my first concern. But I soon started to buy more and more other organic products as well: fruits and vegetables, grains and bread. Whenever more organic products became available, I bought them (mostly at small health-food stores). This evolution happened over the course of several years. There simply weren’t that many products on the market back then, and the organic movement was just getting started. In Austria, the introduction of the “Ja! Natürlich” brand in 1994 by the supermarket chain “Billa” gave the organic movement a huge boost.

The “Ja! Natürlich”-brand is a store-owned brand, and “Billa” is a supermarket chain, which has a huge market share in Austria. All of a sudden, consumers were able to shop for organic products at the supermarket, and didn’t have to search for them at small health food stores and farmers’ markets. It’s all about supply and demand really, and all of a sudden, organic products became widely available all over Austria. “Billa” continued to introduce more and more organic products, and today some 7.000 farmers supply products and ingredients for the “Ja! natürlich” brand, many of which are Austrian farmers. Today, some 20 % of all agricultural farmland in Austria is organically farmed – and “Billa’s” initiative has played a big part in this evolution. Most other supermarkets have since successfully introduced their own brands of organic food.

You’ll notice that this article (and the one before) concentrates on organic products, and not on vegan foods. I became an ovo-lacto vegetarian at age 15, and didn’t stop eating eggs until I was in my thirties. I drank milk until I became a vegan some three years ago.

For many years, my evolution as a vegetarian consisted of buying more and more organic products. I didn’t eat meat or fish, but wasn’t fully aware yet about factory farming issues. I knew little about the dismal conditions in which farm animals were kept. I didn’t know that male chickens were gassed or hacked to death (fully conscious) right after birth. Pre-Internet, information was hard to come by, so my evolution was gradual. However, I slowly became aware of a number of animal welfare issues related to farm animals and eventually reached a point where buying non-organic dairy, eggs, and cheese simply wasn’t an option anymore.

Here’s how I evolved as a food shopper:

First, I stopped buying non-organic milk and eggs at the supermarket. When the organic kind wasn’t available, I eventually made do without. As I absolutely need (need!) milk for my coffee, I made sure never (!) to run out of milk. I didn’t just put milk in the refrigerator, I kept some milk in the freezer as well.

As more organic food items became available (yoghurt, cheese), I bought those as well and made do without, if organic yoghurts and cheese were not available at the market.

“Making do without” organic dairy, eggs and cheese instead of buying substitute products was a huge step in my development as a vegan consumer. I eventually stopped buying non-organic dairy, eggs, and cheese. “Making do without” is a concept that market researchers and companies fear, because it means that one isn’t willing to sample new products anymore, if the preferred products aren’t available. Companies spend millions of dollars on advertising, trying to convince consumers to try out their products (old and new). But once a consumer makes a conscious decision about which kinds of products he is willing (or not willing) to buy, this consumer becomes immune to all advertising. The decision to “make do without” is  one of the most powerful decision a consumer can make – and it usually involves the decision to not buy a certain product.

Furthermore, once a consumer makes this decision about one product, chances are, he will make more “making do without” decision about other products soon afterwards. Once a consumer reaches this point where he makes conscious decisions about which kinds of products he is willing (or not willing) to buy, it becomes an automatic process. More and more products will eventually end up on the “not buying” and “making do without” lists.

Amazingly, my decision to only buy organic dairy, eggs, and cheese wasn’t solely due to animal welfare reasons, as I’ll describe in my next post. It happened in 1994 and coincided with an exciting time in my life: I moved to Los Angeles and enrolled in an MBA-programme at Woodbury University in Burbank, CA.

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Good News: International Court of Justice (ICJ) stops Japan’s JARPA II whaling program in the Antarctic

I didn’t manage to stick to my Monday publishing schedule for vegetarian & vegan market research articles. I’m swamped with work that actually pays the bills. I’ll skip a week, and there’ll be another article next Monday, I promise.

In the meanwhile, a bit of good news from March 31, 2014 (text copied from the Sea Shepherd Website):

The “International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague announced their binding decision today in the landmark case of Australia v. Japan, ruling that Japan’s JARPA II whaling program in the Antarctic is not for scientific purposes and ordering that all permits given under JARPA II be revoked. The news was applauded and celebrated by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society USA and Sea Shepherd Australia, both of which have directly intervened against Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean.”

It’s about time. The Japanese are clearly THE.WORST. SCIENTISTS.EVER. They have been eating their scientific evidence for years.

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Market Research: What Vegetarians and Vegans Want (Part 4 – The Boycott Starts)

Too much work and only four hours of sleep means I am going to keep this post short. But I want to stick to the promised publishing date of this series of articles about vegetarian and vegan market research: each Monday I’ll publish an article about my journey from omnivore to vegan.

You can read all my previous posts about vegetarian and vegan market research in the category What Vegans Want.

After becoming an ovo-lacto-vegetarian at age 15, I slowly became aware of animal welfare issues, and subsequently changed my consumer behaviour accordingly.

I first started boycotting milk and eggs from the supermarket. My mother was a big influence on me in that regard, as she was the one person in our family who did all the shopping back then, and she was the one who got interested in organic food. I remember a specific moment in our kitchen – I must have been 17 years old, back in 1984 -, when she showed me a carton of organic eggs, which she had just purchased. There was hay in the carton, actual hay! That’s how organic eggs were marketed and sold at the beginning of the organic movement in Austria.

I’m not sure about the exact moment when she switched from buying factory-farmed milk to organic milk, but I imagine it must have been at around the same time. I think milk was one of the first – if not the first – food products specifically labelled and sold as organic. I don’t remember any other food products being sold as organic back then, just milk and eggs at supermarkets. It took a few years before the organic movement gathered steam in Austria.

I also think that my mother was primarily motivated by health concerns – pesticides and the lack thereof in organic products – and not particularly by animal welfare issues. Information about the conditions of animals at factory farms wasn’t widely available in the 1980s. The organic movement in Austria became a success story partly because of women like my mother who wanted to feed their children with pesticide-free food.

Anyway, for about two years – from age 17 to age 19, when I moved into my own apartment -, the boycotting of factory farms was done by my mother, not me. But of course these two years had a huge influence on me, as I got used to consuming organic products.

So what does this mean for market researchers, who want to get a better insight into vegetarian and vegan consumer behaviour and the motives behind our buying decisions? Not much – yet. At that point in my life, my consumer behaviour – or actually my mother’s consumer behaviour – only affected two specific products, under specific conditions: milk and eggs, bought at the supermarket.

That last bit – bought at the supermarket – is actually quite important for market researchers, as it makes a huge difference, if someone only boycotts certain products (e.g. factory-farmed eggs) , or if the boycott goes further. My mother still continued to buy processed foods at the supermarket which listed factory-farmed eggs as ingredients, and we all continued to eat dishes at restaurants, which were prepared with factory-farmed eggs. And I’m sure, if there weren’t any organic eggs available at the supermarket or organic milk, she bought the factory-farmed eggs and milk instead of not buying eggs or milk at all. I continued this kind of buying behaviour for several years even after I moved out. When the products I wanted to buy were not available in organic quality, I bought the factory farmed food products instead.

I was in my early twenties when I finally decided not to do that anymore. From that point onward, I made sure to always have enough organic milk at home, as I simply can’t stomach black coffee. Coffee requires milk. These days, it’s rice milk. That decision – not to accept factory-farmed products as an alternative – was a huge step in my development towards becoming a vegan. But let’s not jump ahead, and take this step by step – I want market researchers to get a better insight into vegetarians’ and vegans’ purchasing decisions, and therefore want to describe my development in a chronological order.

Look at that…not such a short article after all. I guess I have much to say. Luckily, I have my own website. Lots and lots of words to follow :)

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Market Research: What Vegetarians and Vegans Want (Part 3 – Information/Living in a Digital World)

Note: All the market research articles are published in the category “What Vegans Want.”

When I became a vegetarian at age 15 during the summer of 1982, little information was available about animal welfare issues. Pre-Internet, we relied for our information on printed media, two (yes, two!) television channels, and two radio stations in Austria. It was a different world back then, and information was hard to come by. That’s why, after vowing never to eat meat or fish again, I did just that for several years – and nothing else.

I didn’t want animals to get slaughtered on my behalf, but I wasn’t aware of any other issues: factory farming, transport, force feeding, etc. Lack of information was a real issue back than, and for the next four years I lived as a “pudding vegetarian.” I didn’t eat meat or fish, but everything else, and didn’t pay attention to nutrition. I ate a lot of junk food including sweets, “puddings” (a favourite actually to this day), and lots of dairy, eggs, cheese, honey, as well as foods that contained gelatine (gummy bears!) and other animal-derived ingredients. I also wore leather (shoes, belts, even a jacket), bought down jackets and bedding, clothing made from silk and wool, and used cosmetics tested on animals. I was still a teenager and utterly unaware of animal welfare issues. Again, keep in mind that all of this happened pre-Internet.

I remember becoming aware of animal welfare issues at age 19, when I moved into my own apartment while studying journalism & communication science and political science at the University of Vienna. From that point on, I became more aware of a variety of issues, which eventually affected my consumer behaviour, and which I’ll describe in more detail in the following weeks and months.

But let’s take another look at the availability of information today. Back in the 1980s information was hard to come by. The Internet has changed all that. If you google the term “animal welfare” you will get 50 million hits – and all the information you need.

This is something that companies must keep in mind when they want to sell their products or offer their services to (potential) consumers today. In this day and age, consumers care about “sustainability” (39.5 million hits on Google) and “ethical companies” (42 million hits on Google). Countless NGOs and consumer rights organisations shine a light on companies, which behave unethically, or sell products, which damage the environment or ignore animal welfare issues. Companies can get away for a while with unethical behaviour – years even -, but eventually they’ll get their asses kicked in a very public way by NGOs or concerned citizens.

It’s downright stupid and shows a lack of foresight, if a company behaves unethically or launches a new product or service, which will eventually put it firmly in the crosshairs of critical consumers and NGOs. In the digital world, if you behave unethically, you’ll eventually get caught. It’s as simple as that.

So why risk it? Why risk damaging your company’s reputation and losing all your customers when there are options? More and more businesses thrive by marketing their products and services to consumers who care about the environment, child & slave labour, and animal welfare issues. There are countless opportunities for profit for companies, which market their products and services to “ethical consumers.” Our numbers are growing (21.7 million hits on Google), and we’re very vocal about products and companies, which we consider unethical. For a company in the 21st century, in a digital world, its long-term survival depends on good corporate citizenship – and that includes showing concern for labour issues as well as environmental and animal welfare issues.

Oh, and one more thing: scrap those multi-million dollar/Euros bonuses for company executives, stop producing everything in Asia, and pay your corporation taxes, for crying out loud. Consumer outrage knows no bounds on those issues.

A few links:

Ethical Consumer: the alternative consumer organisation

Study: Consumer Attitudes to Animal Welfare

Guardian: The animal welfare and antitrust issues behind America’s cheap meat

Christopher Leonard, book: The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food

PETA: Cosmetics and Household-Product Animal Testing

PETA: Animals Abused And Killed for Their Skins

Mercy for Animals: Undercover Investigations of Factory Farms and Slaughterhouses

Animals Australia: Exposing Live Export Cruelty

Belfast Telegraph: 14,000 animals killed for university research at Queen’s and University of Ulster

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Market Research: What Vegetarians and Vegans Want (Part 2 – The Motivation Behind Non-Purchasing Decisions)

Note: All the market research articles are published in the category “What Vegans Want.”

I became a vegetarian at age 15, during a vacation in Italy. I had a nightmare about the slaughter of cows that was very vivid and bloody. Today, I can’t remember the details of that dream, but I do remember waking up drenched in sweat – and a full-blown vegetarian. I would eat no more meat or fish, ever.

I can’t remember anymore what brought on this dream. I imagine it was something I saw, heard, or read about in the days or weeks prior to that night. I had been concerned about animal welfare all through my childhood, and – with the exception of my immediate family – always felt a closer connection to animals than to other human beings. I guess I was born a vegetarian.

Anyway, my decision to become a vegetarian was based on animal welfare. When market researchers try to understand the purchasing (and non-purchasing) decisions of vegetarians, they must look at motivation. It’s not enough to divide vegetarians into subcategories – ovo-lacto vegetarian, lacto vegetarian, vegan, etc. -, it is more important to find out why someone made a (sometimes drastic) lifestyle decision. An ovo-lacto vegetarian, who stopped eating meat for health reasons, might still buy leather shoes. A vegan like myself, who is motivated by animal welfare reasons, won’t even consider such an option.

Don’t make the mistake to assume that decisions about different vegetarian diets only concern food. They have implications which go far beyond eating and shopping for groceries. I started snow-skiing when I was only 1 ½ years old. I basically learned to walk and ski at roughly the same time. When I was a child, my family and I went on skiing vacations five weeks a year (I’m from Austria – lots of mountains, lots of snow). As a young adult, I continued to go on skiing trips at least once or twice a year. And then I stopped – due to animal welfare reasons. And no, it had nothing to do with the wildlife – of course I’d never ski out of bounds, so as not to disturb the wildlife. That’s a given. I stopped skiing because I have very bad eyesight, and I can’t risk losing or ruining my (very expensive) glasses while skiing (and crashing; it happens). Why not wear contact lenses, you might ask? The fluids, which are necessary to store and clean the contact lenses, have been tested on animals. And the companies, which produce those fluids, are usually pharmaceutical companies, which test most (all?) of their products on animals. So there you have it. Thousands of dollars and Euros not spent on skiing (and not staying at hotels, not renting cars, not eating at restaurants, not buying skiing equipment), because I can’t wear contact lenses anymore due to animal welfare reasons. None of it has anything to do with food.

In the following weeks, I’ll take a closer look at the kind of non-purchasing decisions different kinds of vegetarians might make. My evolution from a 15-year old ovo-lacto vegetarian to a fairly radical vegan was slow. When I became a vegetarian 32 years ago – pre-Internet! – little information was available about animal welfare, products, and the companies, which produced them. These days, due to the Internet and social media, one can google just about anything and end up with countless websites, which will provide all the information one needs to make purchasing (and non-purchasing) decisions. I guess that’s why CSR (corporate social responsibility) was “born.” Companies can’t get away anymore with irresponsible, unethical behaviour – and vegetarians are some of the most discriminate customers around. This wouldn’t be a problem for companies, if there were only a few of us. But the number of people, who choose a vegetarian lifestyle, are growing fast and steadily. It would be foolish of market researchers and companies, who want our business, to ignore our needs and values.

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Market Research: What Vegetarians and Vegans Want (Part 1)

In her book “Not buying it. My year without shopping” writer Judith Levine describes how she and her partner made do for a year with what they had, only shopping for groceries (unprocessed foods only). She points out that market research only ever looks into the things people buy, but no-one ever tries to find out what people don’t buy and why they’re not buying what they’re not buying.

As a vegetarian and now a vegan I often find myself in situations where I would love to buy something – but can’t, because the product I long to buy simply doesn’t exist. Buying vegan shoes on the high street is impossible – I have to order them over the Internet from small shoemakers in other countries (see articles here and here). I have to make my own organic vegan “Liptauer,” a delicious Austrian bread spread. There’s no vegan Mexican restaurant in Vienna, and the only Indian restaurant, which offers vegan versions of its food, is set to close in the fall. According to the latest research, approximately 9.000 vegans live in Vienna, Austria. That’s 9.000 potential consumers whose needs aren’t being met.

I’ve decided to publish a series of articles about my decision to become a vegetarian and subsequently a vegan. I’ll describe my evolution as a consumer. I’ll describe when and why I stopped buying certain things. These articles are aimed at market researchers, who would like to get a better insight into vegetarians’ and vegans’ needs. Hopefully, they’ll raise awareness among companies which are looking for new product ideas and ways to expand their businesses. Vegetarians and vegans have money too – and we’d like to spend it. Help us do that.

I’ll publish a short article each Monday, and describe one step of my journey. I became a vegetarian at age 15, and will celebrate my 47th birthday next month. So that’s 32 years of not being able to buy all the things I need and want. That’s a lot of money saved (for me) but also a lot of money that wasn’t put into the economy. Mind you, I am not promoting needless spending, but I really could use a new pair of shoes!

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