As of January 2022, 10% of adults in the United States over the age of 18 identify as vegan or vegetarian.
We conducted an online poll with 930 Americans who were chosen for their gender, education level, age, and income to be typical of the U.S. population. Plus or minus 2% is the margin of error.
Our research, which will be presented in an upcoming academic journal paper, leads us to the conclusion that this population of 16.5 million individuals is equally divided between vegetarians and vegans. Vegans abstain from all animal products, including milk, honey, and eggs. Animal meat, such as that from cattle, hog, chicken, fish, and shellfish, is not consumed by vegetarians.
Up until recently, the majority of those who said they abstained from eating meat usually cited personal health reasons, cultural and religious convictions, and worries about animal welfare. There are now newer motivations.
Environmentalists advise Americans to abstain from eating meat. Additionally, a rising number of celebrities, like Natalie Portman, Stevie Wonder, and Benedict Cumberbatch, have declared they do not consume animal products, making adopting a vegan diet more and more popular.
These diets could be more convenient and simpler to maintain as a result of the rapid expansion of plant-based meats, which are now widely available in grocery stores and offered in fast-food restaurants.
It’s true that the typical American still eats a lot of meat and poultry: more than 250 pounds per person annually, in addition to an additional 20 pounds of fish and shellfish. However, more research does point to an increase in the percentage of Americans eating plant-based diets.
Jayson Lusk, an agricultural economist at Purdue University, conducted a poll of more than 1,000 Americans per month from 2013 to 2017 and discovered that just around 5% of them identified as vegan or vegetarian. That mirrored the findings of a Gallup study from 2018.
This proportion is currently at roughly 10% in January 2022, according to a more recent poll that used comparable methodology and was now led by Glynn Tonsor, an agricultural economist at Kansas State University. That is consistent with our estimate and provides more proof that the percentage of Americans who identify as vegetarians or vegans has increased by a factor of two in recent years.
However, not everyone who considers themselves to be vegan or vegetarian maintains their diet consistently.
Mayor of New York City Eric Adams, a self-described vegan, said that he occasionally eats fish, which caused a little scandal. Adams is not a freak, though. People who identify as vegetarians frequently consume fish or meat on occasion. They may identify themselves as flexitarians, but we food scientists refer to them as partial vegetarians.
And in the US, there are probably more “partial” vegetarians than “true” vegetarians.
For it, there are two viable interpretations. When asked in a study which identification best represents them, some people choose vegetarian since they really consume less meat than non-vegetarians. Another factor would be the usual inclination to exaggerate one’s own conduct in order to conform to what one thinks other people will find admirable.
Will the increase in vegans and vegetarians persist? Food businesses will undoubtedly be paying attention, but only time will tell.
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