Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Food Systems

First Advisor

Emily Belarmino


Objective: To determine to what degree rural plant-based eaters engage in nutritional planning regarding nutrients commonly lacking in diets that exclude or limit animal-source foods (Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, iodine, zinc, and protein).

Design: Semi-structured interviews were completed via phone or video conference. Interview questions explored dietary choices and degree of knowledge and planning for nutrients on concern. A brief diet questionnaire was conducted online.

Setting: Vermont, USA

Participants: 28 rural Vermont residents aged 19-77 years who identified as flexitarian, pescatarian, vegan or vegetarian.

Results: Participants had a positive outlook about the healthfulness of a plant-based diet, but recognized limitations to accessing specific nutrients, especially Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. They shared strategies that they intentionally used to meet needs including eating a varied diet, seeking out specific foods, and taking dietary supplements. Participants showed varying degrees of nutrition knowledge, with vegans generally presenting as the most knowledgeable. Gaps in knowledge related to bioavailability, food sources of specific nutrients, and certain nutrients, especially zinc and iodine. Participants noted a lack of local professional plant-based nutrition expertise and sought information through various avenues.

Conclusions: While there is some knowledge and planning for a plant-based diet among these rural plant-based eaters, there are inconsistencies and gaps in knowledge. Public health and nutrition interventions should focus on addressing identified challenges to dietary adequacy.



Number of Pages

74 p.

Available for download on Friday, August 02, 2024