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Employing a qualitative method adapted from phenomenological psychology, the paper presents a socio-psychological portrait of a vegetarian. Descriptives are a product of the author’s reflection on (dialogue with) empirical findings and published personal accounts, interviews, and case studies. The paper provides evidence for the hypothesis that vegetarianism is a way of being. This way of experiencing and living in the world is associated with particular forms of relationship to self, to other animals and nature, and to other people. The achievement of this way of being, particularly in the interpersonal sphere, comprises an initial, a transitional, and a crystallizing phase of development. The paper frames contrasts between vegetarianism and carnism through the phenomena of the presence of an absence and the absent referent, respectively.


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