WHY DO PEOPLE EAT VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN MEALS WHEN EATING OUT?

The Vegetarian Resource Group Asks in a 2016 National Poll Conducted by Harris Poll

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?

  1. I never eat meat, fish, seafood, poultry, dairy, or eggs.
  2. I never eat meat, fish, seafood, or poultry.
  3. 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.
  4. I never eat meat, fish, seafood, or poultry when eating out or getting takeout, but eat one or more of these foods at home.
  5. When eating out or getting takeout, I sometimes eat meals without meat, fish, poultry, dairy, or eggs.
  6. When eating out or getting takeout, I sometimes eat meals without meat, fish, or poultry.
  7. None of these.

We considered those that never eat meat, fish, seafood or poultry; plus those that 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.

Thirty seven percent of the population always or sometimes eats vegetarian meals when eating out. About three percent of the population is vegetarian (including vegans) all the time, and about five percent always eat vegetarian or vegan meals when eating out.

The Vegetarian Resource Group also asked of those that always or sometime eat vegetarian meals:

Which of the following is the main reason you eat meat meals without meat, fish, seafood, or poultry? For those that never eat vegetarian meals, we asked: Which of the following is the main reason you "would" eat meals without meat, fish, seafood, or poultry?

Those that always or sometimes eat vegetarian meals when eating out pick as their top reasons health (36%), cost (11%), animals (8%), and other (25%).

Those that do not currently eat vegetarian meals said they would because of of health (24%) and cost (9%). Animals was three percent. About half of the group not currently eating vegetarian meals would not eat vegetarian meals for any reason. Thus it appears for marketers of vegetarian meals, their main market is about 37% of the country (currently ordering vegetarian), with an additional 33% a possible potential market in the future. About a third at this time do not express interest in vegetarian meals. Thus it appears that marketers need to look at three different major segments from different viewpoints.

Vegetarians (including vegans) chose as their top reasons animals (29%), health (18%), ethics (10%), environment (9%), and other 12%. This group is "directional in nature" because of the smaller sample size.

WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING IS THE MAIN REASON YOU EAT/WOULD EAT MEALS WITHOUT MEAT, FISH, SEAFOOD, OR POULTRY

VEGETARIANS INCLUDING VEGANS SOMETIMES OR ALWAYS EATS VEGETARIAN WHEN EATING OUT (Including Vegan Meals) NEVER EATS VEGETARIAN WHEN EATING OUT
Health reasons (including weight loss) 18%36%24%
Cost 9%11%9%
Animals 29%8%3%
Religion/Spiritual beliefs 9%4%4%
Inability to obtain meat or other animal products that are organic, GMO-free, or labeled humane 3%5%2%
Environment 9%4%2%
Ethics/Nonviolence/Political beliefs 10%4%1%
Family/Friends 2%2%1%
Other 12%25%6%
I would never do this --48%

# The figures for vegetarians including vegans is directional in nature" because of the smaller sample size. It's interesting that 57% of vegetarians (including vegans) are motivated by personal beliefs about animals, religion/spiritual beliefs, environment, and ethics, while only 10% of those that never eat vegetarian meals are motivated by these aspects in relation to their food choices. Those that sometimes or always eat vegetarian while eating out lie in the middle at 20%. This may have ramifications for those marketing vegetarian and vegan products, as there are different groups of consumers. Of those sometimes eating vegan meals when eating out, seven percent do so because of the inability to obtain meat or other animal products that are organic, GMO-free, or labeled humane. It's unknown if more of these products are promoted if less people will be eating vegan (or vegetarian) meals.

Though directional in interpretation because of the small sample, the environment seems important for dietary changes to 9% of vegetarians and important to many less people in those other groups.

WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING IS THE MAIN REASON YOU EAT/WOULD EAT MEALS WITHOUT MEAT, FISH, SEAFOOD, OR POULTRY

SOMETIMES EATS VEGAN WHEN EATING OUT SOMETIMES EATS VEGETARIAN WHEN EATING OUT SOMETIMES OR ALWAYS EATS VEGAN WHEN EATING OUT
Health reasons (including weight loss) 40%36%38%
Cost 11%11%10%
Animals 6%5%7%
Religion/Spiritual beliefs 2%4%3%
Inability to obtain meat or other animal products that are organic, GMO-free, or labeled humane 7%5%6%
Environment 5%2%7%
Ethics/Nonviolence/Political beliefs 4%3%4%
Family/Friends 3%2%3%
Other 23%31%21%
I would never do this ---

WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING IS THE MAIN REASON YOU EAT/WOULD EAT MEALS WITHOUT MEAT, FISH, SEAFOOD, OR POULTRY
(Asked of everyone)

BLACKS HISPANICS ALL RESPONDENTS
Health reasons (including weight loss) 38% 31% 28%
Cost 11% 5% 10%
Animals 4% 5% 5%
Religion/Spiritual beliefs 4% 4% 4%
Inability to obtain meat or other animal products that are organic, GMO-free, or labeled humane 2% 5% 3%
Environment 1% 4% 2%
Ethics/Nonviolence/Political beliefs 1% 4% 2%
Family/Friends - 2% 2%
Other 8% 15% 13%
I would never do this 29% 23% 30%

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 VRG 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, including 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 have 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.

About The Harris Poll

Over the last 5 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.

With U.S. adults 18 and over numbering about 245 million, we can estimate the number of vegetarians (including vegans) in the U.S. adult population, based on this poll, to be approximately eight million adults. About half of vegetarians were also vegan. Approximately 3.7 million U.S. adults are vegan; 4.3 million are vegetarian but not vegan.

For more information, see http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/faq.htm#poll