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Food Cult

The objective of design research project was to   generate a thesis, create a research plan and conduct interviews to collect information and prove or disprove the thesis.

Project Details: Fall 2018

Qualitative User Research | Insights | Opportunities | Home Visit Interviews | Video Editing | Analysis Exercise 


Sophia Rowland

Eunice Han 

Sungbum Park 

Yan Ting

Project Thesis:

Have certain eating regimens become so extreme that they have become cults?


Question answered below

Cult | noun  

\ ˈkəlt  \ 

We defined "Cult" as a group of people that choose to immerse themselves with a particular group of people sharing the same beliefs, often excluding outsiders. 


Subject Criteria

Vegetarian- a person who will not eat meat

Pescatarian- a person who will only eat fish

Vegan- a person who will not eat or use animal products

• Fully committed to diet for at least 1 year

• Male or Female

• Ages 18-35

• Residing in an urban areas


Research Participants

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(1 year Vegan)
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Veg (4 years)
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(10 Years) Vegan
(2 years)
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Claire Pescatarian
(7 years)
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Veg (Whole life) Vegan (1 year)
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Expert Vegan and Professional Nutritionist

A Surprisingly Female Market:

We started with intentions of male and female users. However male participants proved difficult to find and tended to be uncomfortable speaking about their habits. When speaking with expert Vegan Nutritionist Rachel, she informed us that males including her husband often feel pressured by social stigmas.

"It's like being part of a special club. You meet someone that is also vegan and it's like you both know the same secret."

Rachel  |  Expert Vegan & Professional Nutritionist 

Research Methodologies

See full project on desktop site. 


Timeline Exercise

Knowledge goal 1:

To understand what experiences made them want to radically change their eating behavior & continue to stay committed. (Motivation)

Image Deck

Knowledge goal 2:

To understand how they view the community they identify themselves with and people outside their community. (How they see the world)


Archetype Deck

Knowledge goal 3:

To understand the reason why they believe that they are a better person or why not. (How they see themselves)


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Exploring New Foods



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A Secret Club

Everyday interactions with other special-eaters are less common, so when these individuals encounter someone of the same eating regimen or are acknowledged for their needs it's a reaffirming moment because they are reminded that they belong to a unique community.

Mentor Missionaries

These users feel it’s their mission to share their wealth of knowledge, their testimonies and their vision for a better world with others– often leaving them with a strong desire to mentor others.

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Being Part of a Community 

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Create Connection

Creating a platform where special eaters are enabled to connect with each other and create relationships with those who they might not normally have contact with.

Equip Mentors

Enable Special Eaters to become mentors and empower them as experts by allowing them to share their expertise and inspire their audience.

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Restraint is Adventure  

These special eaters approach their life with an adventurous attitude. It's a happy journey and  restriction is an opportunity to explore. They see themselves gaining more than they are sacrificing.

Evolved Angels 

These users recognize that they are on a lifelong  journey of self improvement. They view themselves as higher beings and constantly work to become morally better, more compassionate and more considerate.

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Being on a Life-Long Journey 

Encourage Exploration

Help special eaters explore food/cooking options in an unconventional way. 

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Enable Support

Generate tools that allow these special eaters to record and visualize their progress. They can be encouraged by reflecting on the progress they have made and use it to share their testimonies.

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Strict management of food gives special eaters a sense of control over their lives. It gives them hope and peace because they know what to expect with their health and mental well-being. 

Sense of Control  

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Being in Control 

Home kitchens / appliances / spaces that makes sense for them and their eating habits. 

Craft a Habitual Space 

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Project Thesis ​ Have certain eating regimens become so extreme that they have become cults? ​

Answer: NO ​

Being a Special-Eater means you've been enlightened. You've gone through a journey of self improvement and you know you must be responsible for yourself and act according to your morals. You're a part of something special, and your testimony is a light to show others the way.

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