Compiled by Ricky Christopher Brathwaite
By Charles Stahler
With assistance of John Cunningham, Kristen Lambert, Rachel Prokop, and Reed Mangels.
For over fifteen years The Vegetarian Resource Group has been polling the number of vegetarians in the United States. See http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/faq.htm#poll. We now wanted to look at the number of people who stay vegetarian along with their motivations.
In 2006 we received 267 surveys from readers and collected by volunteers. In 2009 we resurveyed the same people and received back 153 surveys from individuals who were vegetarian or vegan in 2006. Our methodology is exploratory and further research is necessary to extrapolate to the general population. Note that we don't have information about the 34% of non-respondents.
The vast majority of vegans and vegetarians stayed at least vegetarian. Our hypothesis was that people who became vegetarian primarily for ethical reasons would be much more likely to stay vegetarian than health vegetarians. This did not hold up, with 91% of health individuals staying vegetarian from 2006 to 2009, and 94% of ethical motivators staying vegetarian. Interestingly, the environmental was 100%.
We also theorized that vegans were more likely to stay vegetarian or vegan than vegetarians who weren't vegan in 2006. We were wrong here also as 94% of both 2006 vegetarians and vegans stayed vegetarian and vegan in 2009. Six percent of vegans stopped being vegetarian and six percent of vegetarians stopped being vegetarian. Eight percent of 2006 vegans became vegetarian, while eleven percent of 2006 vegetarians became vegan.
94% of males stayed at least vegetarian and 94% of females stayed at least vegetarian. One hundred percent of vegan males stayed vegan, while 83% of females stayed vegan. Of those that were vegetarian less than two years, 75% stayed vegetarian; while those three years to 30 years or more varied between 90% and 100%. So possibly those most likely to stay vegetarian are male vegans and individuals who have been vegetarian (no meat, fish, fowl) three or more years. In our survey, respondents were asked if they did not eat meat, fish, fowl, dairy, eggs. Though this study can't be extrapolated to the general population, we look forward to building upon this research.
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