Below is a release from the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) which has been conducting research on vegetarian questions for some time.
The interesting headlines from this poll -- 2% of Americans say they are vegetarian while 3% say they are vegan. And more men are vegan than women, which is surprising from our own experience.
VRG asked in a 2011 National Poll:
How Often Do Americans Eat Vegetarian Meals?
How Many Adults Are Vegan in the U.S.?
With numerous groups pushing Meatless Mondays, Tofurky Tuesdays, or other campaigns to cut back on meat one meal or day per week, The Vegetarian Resource Group wondered how often Americans are eating vegetarian meals. In order to find an estimate, VRG commissioned Harris Interactive® to conduct a national telephone poll.
Seventeen percent of Americans stated that they "don't eat meat, fish, seafood, or poultry at many of my meals (but less than half the time)" and 16% don't eat these foods at more than half of their meals (but not all the time). Thus, 1/3 (33%) of the country are eating vegetarian meals a significant amount of the time (in addition to vegetarians)! This is certainly good news for companies producing vegetarian foods.
In a 2008 Vegetarian Resource Group national telephone survey, 40% said when eating out they often order a dish without meat, fish or fowl. For those of you trying to get a handle on the population very interested in vegetarian foods, though not vegetarian, it appears to be 30% - 40% of the country.
How Many Vegetarians Are There?
In this survey, approximately 5% of the country say that they never eat meat, fish, seafood, or poultry. About half of these vegetarians are also vegan; that is they also don't eat dairy or eggs. Note that we had respondents select that "I never eat meat, fish, seafood, or poultry" or "I never eat meat, fish, seafood, poultry, dairy, or eggs." Because we use the word "never" and give the definition rather than having respondents self define, our numbers may be lower than other polls. We also did not ask about honey.
This survey was conducted by Harris Interactive by telephone within the United States on behalf of the Vegetarian Resource Group between March 30 and April 3, 2011 among a nationwide cross section of 1,010 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race, education, region, number of adults in household, and number of telephone lines were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.
In theory, with probability samples of this size, one could say with 95 percent certainty that the results for the overall sample have a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. There are several other possible sources of error in all polls or surveys that are probably more serious than theoretical calculations of sampling error. They include refusals to be interviewed (e.g., non-response), question wording and question order, and weighting. It is impossible to quantify the errors that may result from these factors.
How Often Do Americans Eat Vegetarian Meals (no meat, fish, seafood, poultry)?
6% One meal per week
4% One full day per week
17% Many of my meals, but less than half the time
16% More than half my meals, but not all the time
5% Never eat meat, fish, seafood, or poultry
48% Thus we estimate this is the audience for good tasting vegetarian foods that fit individual needs.
48% Say they eat meat, fish, or poultry at all my meals.
(The remainder didn't know, refused to answer, or said none of the above.)
Never Eat Meat, Fish, Seafood, Or Poultry
5% 6% One meal per week
2% 5% One Day per week
13% 20% Many of my meals, but less than half the time
15% 17% At more than half my meals
2% 2% Never (though not vegan)
3% 2% Never eat meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs
Don't Eat Meat, Fish, Seafood, Or Poultry At More Than Half Of My Meals