Note from the Coordinators

Is Every Vegetarian Also Vegan?

What is the best diet? How many vegetarians are there? You wouldn’t think that such simple questions have complicated answers. As we’ve said before, beware of anyone who claims to have the absolute truth. (True in investing and economics also!) As you know, the answer depends on how the question is asked and what part of the truth people choose to give you.

In this month’s Nutrition Hotline, Reed Mangels explains more about the recent Center for Disease Control study that has been quoted extensively concerning how many vegetarian children there are, and why their answer may differ from our previous results. In this issue, we were going to report on our 2009 national U.S. poll concerning the number of adult vegetarians and vegans. Probably due to sampling error, the total number of people who are vegetarian (includes vegans) and the number of those same vegetarians who are also vegan (excludes non-vegans) came out EXACTLY the same. We believe the number of vegans has grown since Charles became vegan in 1977, Debra soon after, and VRG first started promoting veganism in 1982. However, common sense and experience tell us a statement about all vegetarians being vegan can’t be true.

This is one example of why you have to be careful with what statistics tell you. You shouldn’t look at individual studies independently, but as a whole. And even if the totality of the studies gives you a pretty clear picture, this should not be taken as gospel for all time. We will be conducting another national poll and reporting the information in a future Vegetarian Journal. For past surveys and our 2008 eating out poll, see www.vrg.org/nutshell/faq.htm#poll.

“Ask Amy,” a syndicated advice columnist, had a question from a woman whose best friend became vegan. The writer had no problem with her friend being vegan, but the friend insisted on eating at completely vegan restaurants and was reportedly critical of the places the writer suggested. They then end up not going anywhere. Amy’s answer was that a compromise was called for. She stated, “You should agree to eat at a vegan restaurant. Then, the next time you eat out, she should agree to eat at a non-vegan restaurant that can prepare a decent vegan meal. Surely you can enjoy some soy and lentils from time to time. If your friend digs in her heels and won’t ever eat at a non-vegan restaurant, you two simply won’t be able to eat out together. Then, it’s time to join a bowling league.” (Of course, the vegan may want to bring non-leather bowling shoes.)

Boy have times changed, when a general advice columnist assumes it’s easy to find a vegan restaurant. Don’t forget - if you’re looking for mainstream chains that may be comfortable for some vegetarians, check out our article at . There’s also a link to VRG’s list of 2,000+ vegetarian-friendly restaurants around the USA and Canada.