Monday, February 13, 2012

Jews and vegetarianism

OneSTDV and Half Sigma have been writing about the link between Jews and vegetarianism. That made me wonder if: 1) Jews as a group are more sympathetic toward not eating meat; and 2) if so, is it simply a reflection of their liberalism. Back when I was a liberal in college, I was a vegetarian for two years. (It sucked.)

Following Half Sigma, let's look a the GSS question, "And how often do you refuse to eat meat for moral or environmental reasons?" (This is a weird question. Most people avoid meat for putative health reasons.)

I reverse-scored the answers and regressed the numbers on whether someone is Jewish or not (sample size = 2,882). The standardized regression coefficient is .049 (p < .01) which means that Jews refuse to eat meat more often than others. Next, I looked to see if, among Jews, the tendency is related to religious commitment. The beta is .165 which suggests more abstaining with more religious service attendance (but the relationship falls short of statistical significance, probably because of the small sample--only 70 people) .

Finally, I added a measure of political orientation as a control to the model with the full sample.

Standardized Regression Coefficients

Jewish .041*
Conservatism -.097*

*statistically significant


Including political orientation does little to reduce the link between being Jewish and favoring vegetarianism, so the correlation is not just a reflection of liberalism; it appears to be a cultural difference.

By the way, I despise having to reassure people (I HATED Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate because he defended himself every other sentence) but I don't blame Jews collectively for anything, not even for Howie Mandel.

Another by the way--I really can't be too opposed to vegetarianism as an Orthodox Christian. I'm supposed to abstain from meat and dairy every Wednesday and Friday, and during fast periods like Lent. (I suppose I could blame the Jew Jesus for fasting 40 days.)

57 comments:

  1. You should apply the same analysis to other ethnic groups.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was under the impression that vegetarianism (which, by the way, is a denial of human evolution) was started in this country by liberal Protestants in the 19th Century. Guys like Kellogg and Post.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Off-topic:

    Do you take requests?

    In a Dr. Helen post awhile back, one of the commenters suggested that shy bladder syndrome may be an aversion to "marking territory". I'm curious whether this is related to social hierarchy, and whether the basis for both is genetic. For the time being, I'm curious whether shy bladder syndrome correlates with the age at which a person first has sex, and/or their number of sexual partners.

    "But perhaps it is an evolutionary thing, in much the same way that dogs mark territory and the way dogs specifically pee on other dog's pee marks." - Jaques Cuze, http://drhelen.blogspot.com/2011/07/i-knew-people-were-shy-but-bladders.html

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  4. I think it depends on why someone abstains from meat. If you refuse to eat it because you want to be healthy or you wish to abstain from certain fleshly things out of religious devotion, fine. If you want to eat only plants because you think that animals have rights like people (and inversely that people are no better than animals) then there's a different issue at stake. The debate over who started vegetarianism seems irrelevant to me; the real question is, who started the barabianization of people?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm Indian so this probably skews my prespective.

    Most of the people I know who are vegetarian are vegetarian for moral or environmenal (moral) reasons, not for health reasons.

    Among Indians, there are also just cultural reasons; that's how you grew up, and so you're vegetarian.

    But even among Indians, the ones who stick to vegetarianism seem to be the more religious and spiritual types.

    ReplyDelete
  6. A lot of health and diet fads started in northern Europe, especially Germany, in the late 19th Century and then popped up again in California in the 20th Century. Nudism is an example.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous9:51 AM

    Let them (if you know who I mean) gorge themselves upon anything and everything that moves, no matter how odious and abject the animal, no matter how grotesque or shmutzig or dumb the creature in question happens to be. Let them eat eels and frogs and pigs and crabs and lobsters; let them eat vulture, let them eat apemeat and skunk if they like - a diet of abominable creatures well befits a breed of mankind so hopelessly shallow and empty-headed as to drink, to divorce, and to fight with their fists. All they know, these imbecilic eaters of the execrable, is to swagger, to insult, to sneer, and sooner or later to hit. Oh, they also know how to go out into the woods with a gun, these geniuses, and kill innocent wild deer, deer who themselves nosh quietly on berries and grasses and then go on their way, bothering no one. You stupid goyim! Reeking of beer and empty of ammunition, home you head, a dead animal (formerly alive) strapped to each fender, so that all the motorists along the way can see how strong and manly you are: and then, in your houses, you take these deer - who have done you, who have done nothing in all of nature, not the least bit of harm - you take these deer, cut them up into pieces, and cook them in a pot. There isn't enough to eat in this world, they have to eat up the deer as well! They will eat anything, anything they can get their big goy hands on! And the terrifying corollary, they will do anything as well.

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  8. most of the people i know who are vegetarian (including myself for a couple of years and, yes, it s*cked) are vegetarian for moral not health reasons. you know, be nice to the animals. (^_^)

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  9. Anonymous's quote is from Portnoy's complaint, if anyone's curious.

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  10. I thought you were Catholic.

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  11. I was baptized Orthodox but have participated in Catholic mass and confession over the years when I've lived too far from an Orthodox church. I'm comfortable with either--I tell people I'm Cathodox or Ortholic--and wish they would reunite.

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