The Popeye Paradox: Understanding Barriers to Plant-Based Consumption Maintained by Masculine Identities A Phenomenological Study on Dutch Vegan Bodybuilders

University essay from Lunds universitet/Företagsekonomiska institutionen

Abstract: Purpose: A Contribution to the understanding of plant-based consumption by researching how bodybuilders navigate identity issues associated with a plant-based diet. Theoretical Perspective: We take on a consumer culture theory perspective by researching identity theory, stigma, lifestyle transitioning, and legitimization strategies of the subculture. Methodology/Empirical Data Collection: Inductive qualitative research strategy using the ZMET to conduct a phenomenological study. Vegan bodybuilders were identified as lead users to represent masculine consumers. They were recruited through purposive and snowball sampling. Findings/Conclusion: Consumption of plants is stigmatized, especially in masculine environments. Transitioning is a complex cultural undertaking, weighing heavily on one's masculine identity. Transitioning contains multiple phases, in which appropriate messaging is crucial in each phase respectively. In order for messaging to be effective, it has to be adapted in the form of a benefit specific to the subculture. Contrary to popular belief the ethical argument is counterproductive in acquiring willingness to transition to a plant-based lifestyle. However, it becomes the determining factor for commitment in a later stage. Throughout transitioning, the definition of masculinity is negotiated. Practical Implications: Plant-based brands and media outings need to be reframed and differentiated to fit the socio-cultural angles. In order to do that effectively, research on various consumer groups is required. To differentiate, we have to consider not only culture, but also the phase of veganism as well as understanding and utilizing the appropriate definition of masculinity.

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