Date of Conferral







Anthony R. Perry


Omnivores often respond negatively when friends, family members, or romantic partners disclose adoption of a vegetarian/vegan diet. Examining the beliefs behind these negative responses could result in improved relationships between omnivores and vegetarians. This study examined whether the beliefs omnivores hold to justify meat-eating are related to relationship closeness. The theory of planned behavior provided a foundation with which to examine the attitudes omnivores have about meat consumption. A survey was used with 190 omnivores with existing friend, family member, or romantic partner relationships who had become vegetarian/vegan. Multiple regression analysis was used to determine the extent to which meat-eating justification beliefs and type of relationship predicted relationship closeness. Denial and dissociation justifications significantly predicted lower closeness. Hierarchical justification significantly predicted higher closeness. Romantic partners and friend relationships predicted significantly higher levels of closeness. A 2x3 MANOVA determined relationships were significantly closer for frequency and diversity of activities prior to the adoption of a vegetarian/vegan diet. However, closeness in terms of strength was significantly higher after the diet change. Romantic partners were significantly closer after the diet change. A significant interaction was found between diet type and relationship type in which frequency of interactions was significantly higher for friends and family members before the diet change, however frequency of interactions was significantly higher for romantic partner after. The results may lead to positive social change by strengthening relationships. They may aid the development of interventions that address meat-related cognitive dissonance’s impact on relationship closeness and focus on the positive strengthened influence the diet change has on relationships.