The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog


Posted on August 11, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

One Poll conducted a U.S. online survey July 11, 2017 to July 14, 2017 of 1,000 individuals. When asking, “I think a plant based diet means,” with only one choice allowed per person, the responses were:

A Vegetarian Diet: 20.3%
A Vegan Diet: 16.9%
A vegetarian or vegan diet that is composed of whole foods: 17.8%
A whole foods diet, but can include animal products: 13.4%
I don’t know what a plant-based diet is: 23.8%
Other options: 7.8%

In this survey, 35.5% ate one or more vegetarian meals per week. However, only a total of 8.5% said they would describe themselves as a vegetarian, vegan, or eating a plant-based diet.

Of the people eating one or more vegetarian meals per week, when making food choices, most important to them to them was:

Taste: 48.5%
Personal Health: 22.3%
Cost: 13.2%
Convenience: 6.5%
9.5% (Other choices including ethics, religious beliefs, the environment, animal welfare, and not any of these)

From our observations, the people that caused the vegan and vegetarian movement and growth of products to happen had ethical, religious, environmental, and animal welfare beliefs. However, the great success of vegetarian festivals and growth of vegan products in almost every store is because of appealing to people’s taste, cost, and convenience, as well as investors wanting to make money. At vegetarian festivals, the longest lines are often for vegan baked goods or other desserts. People flock to the free or inexpensive festivals as they are low cost. A turning point in vegan products in supermarkets was when Silk Soy Milk moved soy milk from an asceptic package on the shelf to the refrigerator case next to cow’s milk, which made it much more convenient.

Of those that eat one or more vegetarian meals per week, 29.6% said they would buy “Your Favorite veggie burger cooked on the same grill where meat is cooked, if the grill is cleaned first. 26.8% said they would buy a veggie burger from the store. 11.8% said they would buy a meat alternative grown from animal cell DNA obtained ten years ago, which does not currently involve the raising of animals.

Of those that eat one or more vegetarian meals per week, 32.7% stated they would buy “Your favorite dessert containing sugar, if the source of the sugar isn’t specified.” However, only 11.6% would buy “Your favorite dessert containing sugar whitened through a bone char filter, if bone char is not in the sugar.” This seems to indicate that consumers say they will make different decisions based on knowledge. We would recommend clear labeling of sources on packages and on company websites so consumers can make their own informed choices, and have confidence in the business.

So when the respondents think about a plant-based diet, they can have very different ideas of what it means or what is important to them. If a business wants to cater to people on a plant-based diet, based on this survey, the business would need to do more research on their customers to find out what they want. If a dietitian is counseling a patient who says he/she is on a plant-based diet, that health professional would also have to ask more questions.

Note there are always sampling errors in surveys. Since the One Poll was not weighted towards the actual makeup of the U.S. population, we wouldn’t extrapolate these results to make conclusions about numbers in the U.S. population. One Poll surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults online July 11, 2017 to July 14, 2017. One Poll is MRS and ESOMAR accredited.

For information about additional polls, see:

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