Vegetarian Journal 3008 Issue 3
How Many People Order Vegetarian Meals When Eating Out?
In past Vegetarian Resource Group polls, we have generally found that 2 to 3 percent of the U.S. population never consumes meat, fish, or fowl and, thus, is vegetarian. But how many customers order meatless meals when eating out? To answer this question, VRG conducted a Zogby Poll in 1999 and again in 2008.
We asked, “When you eat out, do you…
1) Sometimes order a dish without meat, fish, or fowl?
2) Often order a dish without meat, fish, or fowl?
3) Always order a dish without meat, fish, or fowl?
4) Never order a dish without meat, fish, or fowl?
What is fascinating to us is that there are more than double the number of people who always order vegetarian food out than there are actual vegetarians. This was true in 1999 and 2008. In both years, over half the population sometimes, often, or always orders meatless meals. Certainly restaurant owners and food service managers need to stay innovative in their vegetarian meal offerings. If a meatless dish is appealing, more than half the population are potential customers. For information about the top 10 restaurant chains for people eating meatless meals, see the Issue 4, 2008, of Vegetarian Journal and <www.vrg.org>.
The number of people who never order meat, fish, or fowl rose slightly from 1999 to 2008, while individuals who sometimes order a dish without meat, fish or fowl stayed about the same. However, those often ordering a dish without meat, fish, or fowl went down. There could be many factors. We wonder if this is just deviation due to statistical error or possibly partially due to the promotion of organic and certified animal products by the sustainable movements and the humane animal groups.
The high percentage of Latinos saying they eat vegetarian meals out (10 percent) is striking. This could be a mistake, but it does correlate with the high numbers previous VRG polls and others’ surveys have found.
It is interesting that approximately 40 percent of the country sometimes orders a dish without meat, fish, or fowl, while a nearly equal part of the population never orders a vegetarian dish. This is similar to the division in the country concerning most beliefs but is not at all split along party lines. For example, 38.9 percent of Republicans sometimes order a dish without meat, fish, or fowl, while 38.8 percent of Democrats do the same. Therefore, ordering vegetarian dishes is a nice attribute we can all have in common, no matter what our other beliefs are. However, the difference in desires makes it more complex for restaurants and food services to meet the needs of various customers.
alwaysorder a dish without meat, fish, or fowl, we will obtain lower percentages than others who simply ask if you are vegetarian or if you eat vegetarian without defining the term. When making decisions for marketing and meal development purposes, you should understand both numbers and types of groups.
Charles Stahler, one of the Co-Directors of The Vegetarian Resource Group, supervised this project.
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