In 2009, a tiny one percent of the US population reported eating vegetarian or vegan. Now, 5% of the United States population is vegetarian and half of those people are vegan. The rates have skyrocketed over the last five years and studies show the rates are climbing. So why are people continuing to go veg? The reason seems to involve a mix of various factors, with the largest impact coming from how much we have learned about commercial farming and animal treatment over the last five years.
To think that 16 million people in this country eat absolutely no animal products is pretty amazing, considering the degree to which meat has an impact on most of our culture. Approximately 42% of those who do not eat animal products say that they went vegan after they saw an educational film. Sixty-nine percent said they chose to eat a vegan diet to support the ethical treatment of animals. Forty-five percent say they transitioned into veganism over time and of all those who are vegan, 52% say they have been eating vegan for less than 10 years. This could be an indicator of the way the country has become more knowledgeable about our food supply over the last five years. (2)
Of all these vegetarians and vegans, the vast majority are women. (2) In fact, in 2009 when only 1 million people were veg*n, a whopping 79% of those were women at the time. Now, out of 5% of the population, one million people report eating vegan and the rest vegetarian. Women still make up 79% percent of the vegan group and 59% of the vegetarian group. (2)
But veganism isn’t just for women. Many men have made the change as well and as of 2012, meat consumption was down a massive 12.2% from 2007. In fact, people aren’t just eating vegan, they’re also more curious about this way of life too. Google reported a three-fold increase in vegan searches from 2007 to 2014! A search for “vegan 2007″ showed over 1,600 results while a search for “vegan 2014″ showed over 24,000 results! (3)
Celebrities also make up a significant portion of those who are vegan or vegetarian. Athletes, talk show hosts, millionaires, and even political figures are now turning to a veggie-based diet or a completely vegan diet. Restaurants are also changing by either offering a vegan or vegetarian entree and many new exclusive vegan restaurants are open now that weren’t around five years ago. Supermarkets now cater to vegans and offer more vegan or vegetarian products and the online raw vegan food industry has been thriving the last five years and only continues to grow. In fact, it’s now estimated that by 2050, America may be a “vegan country”, at least by a large percentage! (3,4)
No longer is veganism the diet for hippies and health nuts; according to statistics, it’s now just a smart way to live that can help decrease our ecological footprint and works our compassion muscles. Kale, anyone?
Aug 06, 2022
Brahmatirtha das Director, Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies