Do People Who Consume a Vegetarian Based Diet Have Higher Levels of Empathy?

3 pages
685 words
Wesleyan University
Type of paper: 
Research proposal
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Vegetarians are people you have abstained from eating meat and sometimes other meat products. The research proposal will focus on finding out information from the various literature concerning the relationship between empathy and the vegetarian diets. Vegetarian diets are all non-meat products including fruits, vegetables, and legumes. On the other hand, empathy is the ability to feel and understand the feeling of other people and also animals. There are three types of empathy, and they include cognitive, emotional and compassionate (Goleman, & Ekman, 2007). In cognitive empathy, one knows how the other person is feeling and how he/she is thinking, it helps in motivating other people. Emotional empathy is innate, and with this kind of empathy, one can respond to other people's thought appropriately. In compassionate empathy, people tend to understand how other people feel, but can do nothing about it.

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Most of the vegetarians choose not to take meat and meat products just to avoid cruelty towards animals. According to Preylo & Arikawa, (2008) vegetarians show higher empathy to both human and animals as compared to non-vegetarians. Preylo & Arikawa, (2008) carried out a research on both the vegetarians and non-vegetarians using interpersonal reactivity index (IRI). The result showed that the male vegetarians exhibited more empathy towards animals than non-vegetarians, but to females, the level of empathy was same whether vegetarians or non-vegetarians.

The research done using functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) technology revealed that the areas of the brain associated with empathy were more active in vegetarians than in omnivores (Filippi, Riccitelli, Falini, Di Salle, Vuilleumier, Comi, & Rocca, 2010). According to Fox, (2015) the connection between the food he ate and the killed animals that were in that food disgusted him, and he had to stop taking meat. He could feel the loss of the orphaned chick or calf and the pain that particular animal underwent to make the tasty stew. Many vegetarians have the same stories, and with the same feeling they end up becoming taking meat-free foods. Animal products like milk and eggs doesn't have a connection to a suffering animal, and for this reasons, many vegetarians consume this product since they don't provoke their empathy (Fox, 2015).

Most of vegetarians and vegans begin as omnivores, and this proves that most vegetarians are not born with the empathy, but at least they are born with more empathy compared to omnivores (Medlock, 2016). Other than the health benefits such as decreased risk of diseases and heart problems, vegetarians avoid meat and meat products because of their empathy towards all living things (Medlock, 2016). Most vegetarians don't take meat because the face of the animal killed will keep on haunting them. For this reason, they prefer getting the nutrients present in the meats such us iron and protein in natural and non-living things like spinach, nuts, and lentils. They believe that you dont have to kill a living being for you to eat a healthy and balanced diet.

In conclusion, vegetarians show more empathy, but this doesn't mean that the omnivores are heartless, but the part of their brain with empathy is not active like that of the vegetarians. The number of vegetarians and Vegas continues to rise day by day, other than the guilt of killing and eating a living being; they find it healthy to eat meat-free diet since they associate meat with some lifestyle diseases.


Fox, R. (2015). When Empathy Fails Us. Retrieved 2017, from, M., Riccitelli, G., Falini, A., Di Salle, F., Vuilleumier, P., Comi, G., & Rocca, M. A. (2010). The functional brain networks associated with human and animal suffering differ among omnivores, vegetarians, andvegans. PLoS One, 5(5), e10847.

Goleman, D., & Ekman, P. (2007). Three Kinds of Empathy: cognitive, emotional, compassionate. Accedido el, 17.

Medlock, K. (2016). Do Vegans and Vegetarians Have More Empathy? Retrieved 2017, from Do Vegans and Vegetarians, Have More Empathy?

Preylo, B. D., & Arikawa, H. (2008). Comparison of vegetarians and non-vegetarians on pet attitude andempathy. Anthrozoos, 21(4), 387-395.


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