A new study exploring the motivations and practices of vegetarian and vegan Saudis using the Dietarian Identity Questionnaire (DIQ) has shown that vegans scored higher than vegetarians on personal motivation and moral motivation, suggesting the desire to help society as a whole is a stronger motivating factor for vegans.

The study was conducted by Aroub Alnasser and Norah Alomran, and published in June 2023 in the Nature Journal under the title “The motivations and practices of vegetarian and vegan Saudis.”

The Rosenfeld and Burrow’s Dietarian Identity Questionnaire measures eight psychological variables related to how individuals think, feel, and behave when eating or not eating animal products. The authors surveyed 330 Saudi adults who followed a vegetarian or vegan diet and compared their scores on the DIQ. The results showed that vegans scored higher than vegetarians on centrality, prosocial motivation, personal motivation, moral motivation, and lower on out-group regard. No significant differences were found in private regard, public regard, or strictness. 

These findings reflect the different reasons why Saudis adopt plant-based diets, such as health, environmental, or ethical concerns. They also highlight the importance of understanding dietary identities and behaviours in a specific cultural context and their implications for social sustainability.

The study concludes, “Understanding the key factors motivating individuals in a meat-based culture like Saudi Arabia to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet is also of great importance in terms of social sustainability. These findings can be used to optimize and encourage others to consider more sustainable plant-based diets that are becoming increasingly associated with sustainable and resilient societies.”

In 2021, another study published in the National Library of Medicine suggested that the prevalence of vegan diets in a population sample of Suadi Arabia was 4.7% and vegetarian diets was 7.8%, although the sample was small and not very representative of the country.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.