Most Vegetarians & Vegans End Up Eating Meat Again

Apparently, the fat, juicy steaks of the world have cast some sort of spell over us.

According to a large study of American dietary habits, 84% of vegetarians and vegans eventually go back to their carnivorous ways. That means only around one in five vegetarians or vegans sticks with the diet.

To conduct this study, the Humane Research Council partnered with Harris Interactive to survey the dietary habits of 11,399 adults ages 17 and older.

Here are some of the study's highlights:

  • 2% of Americans are current vegetarians/vegans, 10% are former vegetarians/vegans, and 88% have never been vegetarian or vegan.
  • Former vegetarians/vegans in the U.S. first adopted a vegan/vegetarian diet at around age 34 on average, and current vegetarians/vegans have an average age of 42.
  • More than half of former vegetarians/vegans gave up the diet within their first year, and one-third went back to meat within three months.
  • About one-third of former vegetarians and vegans said they were living with a non-vegetarian/vegan significant other when their diet relapsed.

So what makes people dispose of their anti-meat convictions? Many people said that they didn't like how it made them stick out from the crowd, and that they didn't have supportive interactions with fellow vegans or vegetarians. In other words, they didn't feel enough a part of a community. Plus, about two-thirds of the former vegetarians and vegans said they gave up meat or animal products almost immediately after deciding they were going to do so, which means they were capable of quitting their new lifestyle just as abruptly as they started.

Maybe, if you make the important decision to adopt a vegan or vegetarian diet, a better approach would be to introduce it into your life gradually. There's no reason to throw away the entire thing if you feel strongly about it just because you accidentally ate a piece of calamari, confusing it for a french fry. It doesn't have to be so "all or nothing"; instead, eat whatever makes you feel good.

(h/t New York Magazine)

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