In a July 2012 Gallup poll, Americans were questioned about whether or not their diets included animal and dairy products, and 2 percent of the population responded that they were vegan. This amounts to about 6 million people in the U.S. alone, an impressive number for the diet’s relatively recent prominence.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the poll also asked if respondents were vegetarian, and 5 percent (or 15 million) reported positively. This figure is down 1 percent from 2001, however, overall the number of people reporting themselves as vegetarian has remained steady over the past 13 years.
More surprising, perhaps, than the overall numbers of vegetarians or vegans was the self-reported demographics of those choosing a meatless diet. Stereotypes of typical vegetarians seem to have little basis in fact, as nearly all segments of the population reported similar percentages.
Slightly more women (7 percent) than men (3 percent) said they were vegetarian, while vegetarian individuals were more likely to be unmarried (8 percent) than married (3 percent).
Instances of vegetarianism were very similar whether a person considered themselves politically conservative, moderate, or liberal. This was also the case regardless of what level of education they’d completed. Additionally, older Americans were more likely to be vegetarian than younger adults, although the percentages were close.
More than 1,000 Americans were polled by telephone in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In a larger 2008 study conducted by Vegetarian Times and carried out by the Harris Interactive Service Bureau, 3 percent of the population said they followed vegetarian diets. Of those, 0.5 percent considered themselves vegan.
Do these figures mean more people are choosing a diet free of animal products? Perhaps, although polls always have margins of error. More than anything, the questions about the kind of people choosing vegetarianism show us that there is not a characteristic type of person choosing a meatless diet, but people from all walks of life have embraced it.