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Vegetarianism In America

Vegetarian Times Study Shows 7.3 Million Americans Are Vegetarians

Additional 22.8 Million Follow a Vegetarian-Inclined Diet

The  “Vegetarianism in America” study published by Vegetarian Times showed that 3.2 percent of U.S. adults, or 7.3 million people, follow a vegetarian-based diet.

Approximately 0.5 percent, or 1 million, of those are vegans, who consume no animal products at all. In addition, 10 percent of U.S., adults, or 22.8 million people, say they largely follow a vegetarian-inclined diet. Data for this survey were collected by the Harris Interactive Service Bureau on behalf of Vegetarian Times.

The poll surveyed 5,050 respondents, a statistically representative sample of the total U.S. population. Vegetarian Times commissioned RRC Associates, a research firm in Boulder, Colo., to perform the data analysis. The 2008 study also indicates that of the non-vegetarians surveyed 5.2 percent, or 11.9 million people, are “definitely interested” in following a vegetarian-based diet in the future. The study also collected data on age, gender and other demographic factors. Of the vegetarians surveyed:

  • 59 percent are female; 41 percent are male.
  • 42.0  percent are age 18 to 34 years old; 40.7 percent are 35 to 54; and 17.4  percent are over 55.
  • 57.1 percent have followed a vegetarian diet for more than 10 years; 18 percent for 5 to 10 years; 10.8  percent for 2 to 5 years, 14.1 percent for less than 2 years.

The 2008 study also indicated that over half (53 percent) of current vegetarians eat a vegetarian diet to improve their overall health. Environmental concerns were cited by 47 percent ; 39 percent cited “ natural approaches to wellness” ; 31 percent cited food-safety concerns; 54 percent cited animal welfare; 25 percent cited weight loss; and 24 percent weight maintenance.

About Vegetarian Times: For more than 30 years, Vegetarian Times has been at the forefront of the healthful-living movement, providing recipes, expert wellness information, and environmentally sound lifestyle solutions to vegetarians, vegans, and non-vegetarians alike.

Comments on this Article

I Like Veg America I Read America Because American Person is very inteligent .talented minded.also strong and Helthy Minded After they eat veg than Most Healthy and strong . Pradip Ingale Osmanabad Marathwada India.

Does anyone know of a source where more vegetarian demographic information is available? By the way, I have been a vegetarian for 10 years.

Pescatarian - Now here's a term I've never heard before. What does it mean?

Hi Deborah, people who refer to themselves as pescatarians usually follow a vegetarian diet with the exception of eating fish/seafood (but don't eat red meat, poultry, etc.).

When was the survey conducted? That's great news. I think the number will continue to grow for many different reasons. I'm a vegetarian and have been for 17 years. Keep doing what you're doing...VT is a wonderful magazine!!

Do you know how many people in the US are pescatarians? I am very curious if this is a growing trend, and wondered if that was a question in your survey? Thank you.


I only wish they included people under the age of eighteen.

i am a vegetariann !!! and i have been one for only about a year :[ but im only 13, and i plan to stay one my whole live!

A pescetarian is a vegetarian that still eats fish. and i agree with Ana, I would be very interested to know how many vegetarians are under 18, being one myself.

"pescotarian" makes about as much sense as "bovovegetarian" or "swinovegetarian.

I would also like to know what state has the most vegetarians, and i have been a vegetarian for 30 years.

Why do people see being a vegetarian as a fashion trend!! iam so annoyed by that!! being a vegetarian should be moreso a lifestyle and the conviction not to EAT ANIMALS BECAUSE of the animals!!!! vegetariansim is just so is so annoying!!!:(

It's so hard to be vergetarian and everything around us promotes meat, like the TV ads. These kind of ads should stop, like the cigarets ads stoped.

I became a vegetarian when I was 16 but it only lasted 3 to 4 months because my summer vacation ended, I had to go back to school. My freakin' high school doesn't offer any veggie items. Even the darn salads had chicken strips in them! But all is good now I'm 23 and out of the whole stupid high school drama crap. Now I'm VEGAN FOR LIFE!!!!!

Try saying "vegaquarians" - it's cuter than pescatarian.

i have been a vegetarian for two years since 4th grade and i currently in 6th grade. VEGETARIANS ARE THE OVERALL BEST YA!

I am so glad for this info because I am writing a book about being vegetarian/vegan. All the comments are great as well,they help me understand things that vegetarians are interested in learning about which I can further research for my book.

Hi, For those Young Folks: I have decided to become an Ovolacto-vegetarian since 2002 for various reasons. To be a vegetarian is one of the most easiest thing for me to do. I become a vegetarian and I never look back. I am very pleased to become a memeber of the vegetarian world. For one thing, I love animals and I just found it more consistenrt to be a vegetarian. For young folks, which I am not, one advice would be to watch out for the protein intakes. I have some friend who became vegetarian (vegan) for a few years and his doctor (who is not vegetarian) suggested him to start to eat meat again because my friend's protein level in the blood is on the low side. The doctor who is self-proclaimed nutritionist also used lots of Ying-and-Yang balance theorty to tell him that eating certain meats will balance his Ying-and-Yang. I was surprised to see that he took that advice and started to eat meats again because there are really so many ways you could increase your protein intake without "resorting" to eating animal meats. There are really so many non-meat-based hight protein foods, such as nuts, milk products and legumes that are readily available. There are now many high-protein vegetarian (even vegan) foods available every direction you look. I found, without much efforts, many high-protein cereals, bars, drinks etc. I don't think, you can run low on protein level just because you are a vegetarian. But, for young folks,I do encourage you to stay on vegetarian diet and pay attention to protein intakes so that you don't fall into the situations like my friends had. (It was sad for me for see what had happened to him - in some way, it is partly due to the fact they don't understand some of the food chemistry. Ying-and-Yang in foods? I am Chinese but I have not heard of such stupid thing in my life. My friend and his doctor are not Chinese) So, just watch out for the protein and you should be a happy vegetarian like me. (And don't ever listen to those Ying-and-Yang theory about foods and diets. It is totally nonsense!) Plato

Why don't you include the percentage of vegetarian kids? I'm a kid (13) and I've been a vegetarian for 8 years.

i,m gonna be doing a speech on being a vegetarian and this article was really helpful thanks to who ever wrote it. by the way i have been a vegetarian all the 19 years of my life.

i have been a vegetarian for 42 days. i had tried it multiple times previously, but hadnt had any luck. i gave up meat for lent, and i was able to not eat meat for 40 days, and now that i have been more informed about what happens to the animals, i dont even want to eat meat. at first it was a challenge, but now the idea of eating another living creature makes me feel sick. this article is really informitive, thanks. =] i would also like to know what the percentage of vegetarians under 18 is, being one myself (11)

This article didn't mention another big reason for vegetarianism: religion. My neighbors don't eat meat because they're Hindu.

I am not a vegetarian because I still eat fish. Some would say I am a "pescatarian" but since Mark thinks that being a semi-lacto-ovo vegetarian doesn't make sense I would just like to present my debate in that the label is not what matters here. It's almost like a strict vegan telling a vegetarian they make no sense because they're not eating the meet yet they still sit on leather couches. The point is that the vegetarian is still making a difference with room to advance. I think people need to get off their high horse and rather than disrespecting others, remember why they eat this way and encourage it. Positive reinforcement is the key. I feel it is better I am not eating beef, chicken, pork, etc., and have minimized my meat intake to strictly fish.

I think young people aren't included in this survey for legal reasons. It is harder to survey young people, as parents permission is needed to participate. And parents would be concerned if someone they didn't know called up and said "Are there any people under 18 home that I can talk to?" Rachelle, I agree it is good that you are reducing your intake of animals. Every effort counts, and I would be thrilled if everyone reduced their animal intake by 50% (even if none of them went veg). I think Mark was just pointing out that fish are animals too, so if you eat fish, you are eating animals, and thus (by definition) aren't vegetarian. I think it is great you don't eat cows, chickens, and pigs, and hope you continue to keep these animals off your plate. It would be even better if you, and everyone else, eliminated fish, eggs, dairy, skins, wool, and other animal products from their lives too. Keep up the good work, and keep striving to create the kind of world you want to live in with each bite you take.

I've been a veg for a little over a year now, and I am 15. It's not an easy lifestyle for me because of health problems, and tight money. It may not be easy, but it's so rewarding to know that I'm not part of the problem. And I would also like to say that I'm ovo-lacto-pescatarain, myself, but I'm trying to cut fish and seafood as well, which isn't easy when you live in Maine. I think anyone who makes any attempt to pull any type of meat from their diet is trying to do something that can be difficult at first. Even someone who still eats meat but buys from a local market where animals aren't mistreated is doing something to help better the world! Long live the 7.3 million of us!

I've been a vegetarian for 3 yrs. I felt weaker and weaker everyday because of my eating was irregular and I'm a picky eater too. BUT I'm now not as picky as I used to, and I eat almost any kind of vegetables,fruits, nuts, and chocolate which I didn't like. Anything but animal flesh! I'm now feel a lot better and happier because I don't have guilty feeling of eating animals anymore, yike! WE'VE MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR A GREENER, BETTER WORLD. Goodluck to all of vegetarians!

Its a beautiful thought that comes from most of you. For me, to show love and compassion to animals is a beautiful thing to do, since they cannot express their pain and sufferings. If you love animals, you probably don't want to see them on your plate...

It's so wonderful to know that this is a changing world, and that the vegetarian/vegan population is growing. I'm vegan, but I believe that even if you don't eat meat for just one day per week, that's a start.

Vegetarians don't consume animal flesh. It's pretty simple. Don't claim to be something you aren't.

Sarah, You're not a vegetarian, you eat fish. You can eat fish or you can be vegetarian, but you can't be both. It's great that you're "trying to cut fish and seafood as well", but until you eliminate them from your diet, don't say things like, "Long live the 7.3 million of us!" It pisses real vegetarians off. No, I'm not on a "high horse." A definition is a definition. Deal with it.

Being a vegetarian isn't something that should be a real struggle for people. i don't see how people say they're trying to be one. if you really want it its not hard, if you dont really want to then don't, there is nothing wrong with that. As a nutrition student studying to be a dietician (and also a vegetarian for many years) iron and vit B12 are actually some of the biggest nutrients to watch out for a deficiency in, like Plato Lee i don't see how someone will easily end up with not enough protein, especially if you are lacto-ovo.

Hi - I just wanted to say congrats to all the people joining the ranks of the vegetarian! On behalf of the planet thanks for your choice! On the issue of people eating fish - I agree that fish isn't a vegetable, and if you eat fish you aren't a vegetarian. It is great, however, that people are making that step to cut meat and other animal products out of their diets, and we should encourage them in their transition. People never respond well to anger :) As for the transition, it takes time and it is difficult for some. I have been vegan since '92, have travelled the world and was vegan in a combat zone, but for some just eating a veggie burger is an ordeal. What are you going to do? Lets live and let live, and sooner or later we will come up on top. Just think where the vegan diet was 20 years ago... Peace.

This is perfect! I couldn't find any recent statistics on vegetarians in US for my article in my school paper. The only one I could find was from 1994! Anyways on the pescatarian issue: I don't understand pescatarianism because eating commercial, mass-produced fish is horrible. So many fish species should be considered endangered, but many countries won't name them so because of money!!! And farmed fish is even worse they over fish other types of fish to feed farmed fish and the farming pollutes the water. In British Columbia the Orca, a beautiful creature is in trouble because the wild salmon are dying out from fishing and the sea lice brought in by the farmed fish. So I don't eat fish for the above reasons and more. I seriously don't understand pescatarianism.

I live in England and I am a lacto-vegetarian (no eggs or meat!). There are clearly labelled vegan foods in England, which is good. I didn't know there were so many vegans in America!

I am from India and currently studying in Santa Barbara. Nice to see so many vegetarians. I have been a vegetarian all my life and will continue to be so.

I am writing a paper on vegetarianism, and i found this information very helpful. :) I think that anyone who is trying to cut meat out of their diet is very inspirational to younger people. If they haven't cut out fish out of their diet yet you should encourage them.

Thanks for the information! I've been a vegetarian for about two years (I still enjoy eggs and dairy products), and I'm currently writing a paper for my English class on the advantages and disadvantages of vegetarianism. I'm hoping this will help both me and my classmates understand being a vegetarian better. Even though I've been one for two years, I know I still have a lot to learn. So thanks, this has helped a lot.

Hi! Wow, so glad to hear so many positive stories about vegetarianism. It is quite comforting to hear that this lifestyle is growing daily. And thankfully this means that slowly but surely being a vegetarian is becoming easier. I do however want to offer my humble comment on the labeling that some of you have mentioned. I think a lot of people are discouraged by these 'definitions'. It may be true that 'either you want it or you don't.' But I doubt we can change everyone's mind from morning to night about the treatment of animals or following a healthier diet. Most new ideas need a little time to be accepted and are greatly benefited from being introduced slowly. Otherwise you create a constant state of war. Pescatarian or not, you really should encourage every little step. Might have a better chance of achieving full vegetarianism with a little patience than immediate and complete abstinence. It is really not about vegetarians against vegans against pescatarians. It is simply about DECREASING the intake of products that are promoting mistreatment of animals and/or not too healthy for our diet. I've been a vegetarian for almost 15 years now, but it was definitely not a smooth transition, and more than 80 percent of the world population is not yet adapted to it. Which means that you really have to get creative. I would imagine it is especially hard for younger people in school. I mean in the end I would think it might be better to buy fresh fish from a local independent fisherman than a veggie burger from Mcdonalds or other fast food chains and continue giving money to their slaughter houses. But that is just my opinion. Anyway good luck and good on all of you for your individual endeavours in taking on a diet that suits you. :o)

Hi, I am very happy to see the number of vegetarians/vegans are higher than I expected! Hopefully these numbers continue to rise. I have been a vegetarian for 10 years now and try my hardest to buy milk and eggs from companies that treat their animals humanly. I agree with Sharon that we don't want to discourage anybody that is starting to cut slaughtered animals out of their diet. It's a step in the right direction. Initially, when I first became a vegetarian it was a slow process of cutting dead animal by-products out of my diet. For about the first 6 months I would still eat things with chicken/beef broth and I didn't even know about gelatin. Now I wont even eat anything that has come in contact with meat. (Yuck!) To me, eating meat seems barbaric and unnecessary. I couldn't imagine any other way and wish everyone felt the same. I think all meat eaters need an education on where their meal comes from, how it was treated and slaughtered and a little less selfishness.

Hello, I'm so excited to hear there are quite a number of vegetarians out there! 2009 was a big year for me as I made the final step to become Vegan and it has been so easy. I now look back on the year and realize that slowly I was progressing towards this step throughout the year. "Reading Flesh of your Flesh" by Elizabeth Kolbert and watching Earthlings sealed the deal for me. I can never go back to eating animals or any animal products. For those lacto-ovo vegetarians out there. Just a few facts. Consuming milk and eggs unfortunately supports factory farming as Dairy cows are turned to meat once they become "unproductive" and their calves suffer greatly too. Male calves become veal without even getting a chance to bond with their mothers while female calves start their miserable lives as dairy cows. The poor chickens on the other hand are kept in tiny little cages their whole life, debeaked and forced to produce eggs. And you guessed right, once their "production" levels drop, they are also food on the table.

I origionally became a vegetarian for health reasons and had difficulties with remaining meat-free. A friend turned me on to the animal rights and it finally sold me. I have never liked fish/seafood so no problems there. I do wish they had statistics on teenage vegetarians because I am putting a proposal together to present to my school administration to try and get vegetarian friendly options in the cafeteria. Wish me luck.

Here's the deal I am not vegatarian (although I give it plenty of though or I would not be on this website) but I have multiple friends who are and they say their biggest issue is other people judging and making fun of them because they choose not to eat meat. How are those being rude, judgmental of those who to eat fish any different than these individuals vegans/vegatarians have to deal with every day in society who call them odd/flower childs/weird etc.? You are being no different than those people and hypocritical. I have thought about gradually going vegetarian and I will work toward it one day but I will do it for my reasons not what others think I should do it for. I love and respect all my friends who are vegan/vegatarian and guess what I get the same respect in return for who I am as a person not just for what I do or do not eat.

Why do people keep saying that going veg is expensive?? For most cities there are farmers markets. Find the nearest one and stock up on veggies and fruit for the week for less than 20 bucks. Beans and rice are cheap, cheap, cheap. If you buy all of those processed unhealthy veggie faux meats, then yes, it is expensive. Go for the fruits and veggies!!

I am a vegan for 20 yrs! Go Veg! Be Green! Save our Planet.

Now you can save the Planet,be vegetalian.For your child for my child and for world child Thank you!

Be positive if you do not consume animal products! Carnivores should be on the defensive, trying to justify a lifestyle that promotes cruelty and ill-health.

Im 16 and have been a vegetarian for 10 years! Never had red meat in my life. Power to the veggies!!

I agree 100% with Linda J. I'm 16 and it's hard to not eat fish and go to public places and not just eat carbs. I know I'll go vegan in the future, but for right now, can't pescatarian be enough for you people? sheesh. Go vegetarians/vegans/pescatarians!!

To make fun of a pescatarian is no better than carnivores making fun of vegetarians. To say it doesn't make any sense is ridiculous. Even if a person says they will never eat pork again and another never eat chicken, etc. It does make sense because they are still saving many animals. They are doing the best they can to help the problem. That is certainly better than doing nothing! It's like an animal loving compassionate vegan thinking that being a vegetarian makes no sense.Anything any of us do to end any animal suffering MAKES SENSE!