For those, who may not be familiar with the concept, vegetarianism is a dietary lifestyle that involves abstaining from consuming meat, poultry, fish, and other meat and bone-derivative products. There are many vegetarians across the globe, whether in the West or in a number of eastern countries. So, what percentage of the population is vegetarian, you may ask?
According to a recent study, 22% of the global population is vegetarian. Another report says that almost 10% of Americans above 18 consider themselves vegan or vegetarian, and the number is increasing daily. People are adopting a plant-based dietary routine for reasons including health, environmental concerns and to promote animal welfare.
In this post, we'll take a deep dive into the statistics, the reason for the increasing number of vegetarians, and more. If you plan to switch to a vegetarian lifestyle, the following insights will inspire you to take the first step towards a cleaner and greener lifestyle.
Determining the exact percentage of vegetarians worldwide may prove difficult since there are more than one definition of vegetarianism. For instance, individuals in the West may consume eggs and still consider themselves vegetarians, while Hindu vegetarians would not eat eggs, as their understanding of vegetarianism is very different, due to religious reasons.
Statistics show that about 22% of people around the world are vegetarians. Whether out of necessity or by choice, the number is increasing every day.
It's good to point out here that a huge number of people in poorer countries simply don't have access to meat, so they are in effect on a vegetarian diet, regardless of how they categorize themselves.
On that note, the distribution of people, who do not consume meat, across the globe varies, where India has the highest number of vegetarians, due to religious and cultural factors. Approximately 39.5% of India’s population is vegetarian.
In contrast, Hungary, Serbia, and Russia are the top non-vegetarian countries. In Russia, only 1% of people are vegetarian, and the percentage of non-meat eaters in Hungary is just 5%.
And another research shows that possibly 6% of U.S. citizens do not touch meat, where half of them are actually vegans. In the U.K., around 10% of people follow a vegetarian diet, due to a variety of reasons like weight management, animal welfare, and environmental concerns.
There are numerous factors that influence the prevalence of vegetarianism. Cultural and religious factors are the dominant ones. Furthermore, the growing awareness of animal cruelty and the impact of meat consumption on the planet has led to a rise in vegetarianism.
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Similar to vegetarianism, estimating what the global vegan population is for definite would be a daunting task. But as per the latest data, there are 79 million vegans globally, and the number is constantly rising.
Interestingly, as of 2019, out of this, 9.7 million vegans are Americans, who have pledged to stop animal exploitation and joined hands to promote animal and environmental welfare. Also, between 2014 and 2018, in the U.S., there was a 600% increase in folks, who identified themselves as vegans.
A report presented by NSF says that 88% of food manufacturers expect a surge in plant-based product demand. Another 74% of manufacturers said that consumers prefer plant-based products, due to health reasons.
Even though only 1% of the world population identifies themselves as vegans, these studies are a proof that veganism is soon going to be a popular lifestyle globally.
The number of vegans differs by region. According to World Population Review, the U.K. has the highest number of vegans. In support of this, there were over 200,000 internet searches for vegan restaurants in 2022. Australia comes second, followed by Israel, where nearly 5% of Israelites are eating only vegan food.
Veganism is mostly adopted by people for ethical reasons. It's not simply a dietary choice but rather a stand against animal exploitation an dcruelty. True vegans condemn the use of anything that contains animal substances, be it in cosmetics, clothing and accesories.
Related: What Percent of Americans Are Vegan? The Latest Statistics
As of 2022, 5% to 6% of Americans identify themselves as vegetarians and don’t eat meat or fish. The same study states the number of vegetarians in 2019 was approximately 4%, which pesents a clear evidence of growing interest in plant-based diets.
The top reason for Americans turning vegetarians is associated with health concerns. Studies have shown that following a vegetarian diet has reduced the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.
Environmental concerns is another reason why people are eating greener and cleaner food. The meat industry generates about 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
The number of vegetarians in the U.S. is not equally distributed. Also in terms of gender, men are less likely to become non-meat eaters. Out of the 5% vegetarian Americans, the majority are women.
Also, young adults are more likely to consciously choose a vegetarian diet. As per a report, 10% of Americans between the age of 18 and 34 prefer to eat plant-based food.
As stated, vegetarians are distributed unevenly across the globe. In some countries like India, it's a deep-rooted cultural and religious concept not to eat meat or fish, and less than 30% of Indians consume non-vegetarian food regularly.
Contrastingly, eating meat is associated with old traditions and religious beleifs in various countries, including America. Festivals and seasonal holidays in such countries are incomplete without a special meat dish.
Here is a list of the top ten countries with the most vegetarians:
|1||India||up to 39%|
Related: Plant-Based Vs. Vegan: Is There a Difference?
A: According to the Vegetarian Resource Group, approximately 70 to 75% of people globally eat meat.
A: There are more vegetarians than vegans worldwide. A study conducted by Vegetarian Times found that there are around 9.7 million Americans who follow a plant-based diet, and about one million of those are vegans.
A: Veganism and vegetarianism are both healthy lifestyles, as long as you eat a well-balanced diet and don't miss on any macro and micronutrients.
Related: What Is Lacto-Vegetarian? Diet, Benefits & Meal Plans
It's true that only 22% of the global population is strictly vegetarian. According to the statistics in this guide, we see the growing trend of folks opting to follow a plant-based diet. People are more motivated to stop eating meat and other animal-derived products, due to their increased awareness of both the health and environmental benefits of vegetarianism.
If you're considering a shift to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, approach this in a balanced manner. A nutritionist can help you include a wide range of vegetarian foods in your diet and make it easier for you to adopt a healthier lifestyle.