It’s easy to look around your social circles and point out a friend or family member here and there that is either vegan or vegetarian. But it’s often more difficult to gauge how many people in your community, your state, and the broader U.S. are actually going meat-free or animal product-free.
Thanks to a recent survey from the Vegetarian Research Group, The Vegetarian Times and Harris Interactive Service Bureau, we have a whole new set of statistics on vegans and vegetarians, including how old they are, where they live, and why they choose to eat and live the way they do. It’s this kind of information that makes it easier to decipher who among us is most likely to be meat-free and why.
As reported by Statistic Brain, a total of 7.3 million people verified that their diet was strictly vegetarian while 1 million reported that they were strictly vegan. Furthermore, around 23 million respondents reported that they follow a “vegetarian-inclined diet,” which most likely means that they loosely follow a vegetarian or vegan diet most of the time. This “flexitarian” approach has been a growing trend thanks to convincing documentaries like “Forks Over Knives,” as well as movements like Meatless Mondays.
On an even more encouraging note, the survey – which was issued earlier this year – found that more than 5 percent of respondents were “definitely interested” in following a vegetarian diet in the future. This positive statistic points even more to the fact that Americans no longer see meat and animal products as necessary sources of protein in their diets.
Among the vegetarian respondents, 59 percent were female and 41 percent were male. As for how old these meat-free eaters are, 42 percent were between the age of 18 and 34, about 40 percent were between the age of 35 and 54, and around 17 percent were 55 or older. In addition, 57.1 percent reported that they’d been following a vegetarian diet for more than 10 years, 18 percent had done so for 5-10 years, 10.8 percent for 2-5 years, and about 14 percent had been meat-free for two years or less.
Whether you follow a special diet or not, it’s becoming more apparent that people opt for a vegan or vegetarian diet for a wide variety of reasons, be it animal maltreatment, cost, or health. The survey results provided some telling insight as to why people actually make the dietary changes they do. Fifty-three percent claimed “improve overall health” as a major reasons for going vegetarian, 47 percent claimed environmental concerns, 39 percent said it was because it’s a natural approach to wellness, and 31 percent claimed it was for food safety concerns. Not surprisingly, 54 percent answered animal welfare, 25 percent answered weight loss, and 24 percent answered weight maintenance as leading reasons for going meat- or animal product-free.
The survey also generated a list of the top 10 most vegetarian-friendly cities in the U.S., a statistic based on the number of vegetarian restaurants in the area. Did your city make the list?
1. Portland, Oregon
2. Seattle, Washington
3. San Francisco, California
4. New York, New York
5. Atlanta, Georgia
6. Washington, D.C.
7. Minneapolis, Minnesota
8. Austin, Texas
9. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
10. Chicago, Illinois
What we wouldn’t give to move to Portland, Seattle, or San Francisco just for the amazing food options! It’s no wonder so many health-conscious people flock to these cities – the availability of vegan and vegetarian eateries are abundant. Would you move to a new area just for the sake of having more healthy food options? We’re not ashamed to say we absolutely would and have in the past. Perhaps the next survey on American diets should include statistics on this up-and-coming trend.
By Dana Shultz for Diets In Review