In a 2016 National Poll Conducted by Harris Poll, The Vegetarian Resource Group Asked...
- How Many Adults Eat Vegetarian and Vegan Meals When Eating Out?
- How Many Adults in the U.S. are Vegetarian and Vegan?
More and more restaurants and companies are offering vegetarian and vegan meals. For example, Subway is testing a vegan burger in Florida, and Ben & Jerry's recently released four vegan ice cream flavors. But how many people are interested in vegetarian and vegan meals?
To help answer this question, The Vegetarian Resource Group commissioned Harris Poll to conduct a nationally representative online poll of 2,015 adults aged 18 and over. We asked:
Which of the following, if any, best describes your eating behavior?
- I never eat meat, fish, seafood, poultry, dairy, or eggs.
- I never eat meat, fish, seafood, or poultry.
- I never eat meat, fish, seafood, poultry, dairy, or eggs when eating out or getting takeout, but eat one or more of these foods at home.
- I never eat meat, fish, seafood, or poultry when eating out or getting takeout, but eat one or more of these foods at home.
- When eating out or getting takeout, I sometimes eat meals without meat, fish, poultry, dairy, or eggs.
- When eating out or getting takeout, I sometimes eat meals without meat, fish, or poultry.
- None of these.
We considered those who never eat meat, fish, seafood or poultry, plus those who never eat meat, fish, seafood, poultry, dairy, or eggs, as vegetarian. We classified that second category of vegetarians who don't eat dairy or eggs also as vegan. Because we use the word "never" and don't just ask if a person considers him/herself vegetarian, our numbers may be lower than other polls. Be wary of comparing to polls in other countries that ask if you are vegetarian or vegan, because people may self-define these categories differently. We did not ask about honey.
Thirty-seven percent of the population always or sometimes eats vegetarian meals when eating out. About three percent of the population is vegetarian (including vegan) all the time, and about five percent always eat vegetarian or vegan meals when eating out.
Because 37% percent of the country eats at least some vegetarian meals when eating out, this has strong implications for food companies and restaurants. There is incentive for producing vegetarian dishes as there is demand from more than one third of the population. However, based on our other research outside this poll, it's not enough just to offer meatless items. Businesses also have to cater to various needs, which may include price, health, convenience, source of ingredients, taste, religious requirements, and more. And since there is a large segment that did not say they consume vegetarian meals, marketing is more complex because of such different audiences.
This survey was conducted online within the United States between March 16 and 18, 2016 among 2,015 adults ages 18 and older by Harris Poll on behalf of The Vegetarian Resource Group via its Quick Query omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.
All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error, which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate. These include sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, the words "margin of error" are avoided as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.
Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in our surveys. The data has been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the online panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
People Who Never Eat Meat, Fish, Seafood, or Poultry (Total Number of Vegetarians, Including Vegans)
3.3% Total* (About one half of the vegetarians are also vegan. Vegans also don't consume dairy and eggs, as well as not eating, meat, fish, seafood, or poultry.)
3.2% of U.S. adult males are vegetarian
3.5% of U.S. adult females are vegetarian
5.4% of adults living in the Northeast are vegetarian**
2.3% of adults living in the South are vegetarian**
2.3% of adults living in the Midwest are vegetarian**
3.7% of adults living in the West are vegetarian**
5.3% of U.S. adults ages 18-34 are vegetarian
3.1% of U.S. adults ages 35-44 are vegetarian
2.2% of U.S. adults ages 45-54 are vegetarian
2.7% of U.S. adults ages 55-64 are vegetarian
1.8% of U.S. adults ages 65 plus are vegetarian
3% of U.S. adults who identify as Black are vegetarian
3% of U.S. adults who identify as Hispanic are vegetarian
* Though you can't really compare polls year to year because of sampling error, this year we found out 3.3% of respondents were vegetarian (including vegan), while last year the number was 3.4% in our Harris Poll.
- ** The Northeast Includes
- CT, DE, DC, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT, and WV.
- The Midwest includes
- IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, ND, OH, SD, and WI.
- The South includes
- AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, and VA.
- The West includes
- AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, NM, OR, UT, WA, and WY.
About the Harris Poll
Over the last five decades, Harris Polls have become media staples. With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers' motivations and behaviors, The Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. The Harris Poll offers a diverse portfolio of proprietary client solutions to transform relevant insights into actionable foresight for a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer packaged goods.
People Who Always or Sometimes Eat Meals Without Meat, Fish, or Poultry When Eating Out (Includes Vegetarians and Vegans)
|15%||Sometimes or always eats vegan meals when eating out.|
|32%||Ages 65 plus|
*** Though you can't really compare polls year to year because of sampling error and the differences in the polls, this year we found out 37% of the population always or sometimes eats vegetarian (including vegan) meals when eating out, while last year in our Harris Poll we found that 36% of the population (including vegetarians and vegans) ate vegetarian meals (including vegan) one or more times per week.
|Section of the Country in Our Survey||Total||% of Always or Sometimes Eats Vegan Meals When Eating Out||% of Always or Sometimes Eats Vegetarian Meals (Including Vegan) When Eating Out|
If we look at what percentage of the survey respondents come from a certain state and compare that to the percentage of respondents eating vegetarian meals who come from that state, we find the numbers are similar. The one outlier was New York, with 6% of respondents from New York, but 9% of those surveyed who sometimes or always eating vegetarian meals when eating out were from New York.
Compared to percentage of population, generally each section of the country proportionately contributes to the number of people eating vegan and vegetarian meals out, though the Northeast has a little higher percentage of people sometimes or always eating vegetarian and vegan meals out.
For information on more polls, see http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/faq.htm#poll