Portraits of Veganism: A Comparative Discourse Analysis of a Second-Order Subculture
Veganism has enjoyed increasing popularity and more sustained scholarly attention during the past several years. Using insights from cultural theory, this study conducts a qualitative discourse analysis of two vegan-promoting documentary films: Forks over Knives (2011) and Vegucated (2010). Each of these popular vegan-promoting films renders a different portrait of vegans and advances distinct motivations for the adoption of a vegan lifestyle. Forks over Knives promotes health veganism rooted in scientific arguments about the dietary benefits of veganism. By contrast, Vegucated promotes holistic veganism that, while encompassing personal health benefits, also promotes animal rights advocacy and environmental consciousness. These competing portrayals reveal an important fissure line within veganism, one that may have implications for the growth of this movement. Veganism is a distinctive second-order subculture situated within the broader vegetarian subculture. However, veganism maintains cultural relevance by drawing on quintessentially American discourses of individualism, science, healthy living, and environmental awareness.