Numbers of Vegetarians Are Growing World Wide

Published: 15th January 2010
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What do Bob Dylan, Pamela Anderson, Brad Pitt, Martina Navratilova, David Duchovny and Brigitte Bardot have in common? They are all vegetarians. With the exception of India, it is estimated that over 1% of the global population avoid meat, poultry, and fish, and that about 0.1% are vegans, avoiding all animal products. This translates into about 60 million vegetarians worldwide, excluding India.

In a 2008 study [Vegetarianism in America, published by Vegetarian Times] it shows that 3.2 percent of U.S. adults, or 7.3 million people, follow a vegetarian-based diet. Approximately 0.5 percent, or 1 million, of those are vegans, who consume no animal products at all. In addition, 10 percent of U.S. adults, or 22.8 million people, say they largely follow a vegetarian-inclined diet.

This study showed that of the non-vegetarians surveyed 5.2 percent, or 11.9 million people, are "definitely interested" in following a vegetarian diet in the future. This shows that many people believe a vegetarian diet is a healthy diet.

The study collected data on age, gender and other demographic factors relating to vegetarians, revealing the following figures:

- 59 percent are female and 41 percent are male.

- 42.0 percent are age 18 to 34 years old, 40.7 percent are 35 to 54, and 17.4 percent are aged over 55.

- 57.1 percent have followed a vegetarian diet for more than 10 years, 18 percent for 5 to 10 years, 10.8 percent for 2 to 5 years, and 14.1 percent for less than 2 years.

The 2008 study also indicated that over half (53 percent) of vegetarians in the USA eat a vegetarian diet to improve their overall health. Environmental concerns were cited by 47 percent, 39 percent cited 'natural approaches to wellness'', 25 percent cited weight loss, 24 percent cited weight maintenance, 31 percent cited food-safety concerns, and 54 percent animal welfare.

In Western Europe the number of vegetarians varies between 2% and 4% of the population according to to a 2006 Mintel survey (, with the United Kingdom as the exception. The UK is shown as having the highest per capita vegetarians in Western Europe at 6% of the population. The large number of vegetarians in the UK is accounted for to some extent by health scares relating to mad cow disease.

The number of vegetarians in Eastern Europe varies between 0.3%% and 1.9% of the population according Mintel, which is a much lower percentage compared to Western European countries. Regarding the rest of the world, data is incomplete and estimates vary between 0.2% and 4% vegetarians as a percentage of population, excluding India and Israel.

According to the Israeli Ministry of Health, Israel has the world's second largest percent of vegetarians (8.5%) which equates to a remarkable 595,000 people in a relatively small country. India on the other hand holds more vegetarians than the rest of the world combined. A survey by 'The Hindu' newspaper (14 Aug. 2006) found that 40 percent of the population, or 399 million people, are vegetarians.

Today, more than 400 million Indians are vegetarian, mostly driven by class and religious concerns, with the Brahmin class expected to not eat meat, the Hindu religion suggesting vegetarianism and the Jain religion absolutely requiring it.

The Jain religion is based on not harming other forms of life. With over 7 million members, they do not consume any kind of meat, fish, eggs, or honey. They also avoid root vegetables (which might harm soil insects when harvested), fruit or vegetables that have been on the ground, and those that are more than 3 days old (including pickles and preserves). Water is boiled before drinking, and all liquids are strained before consumption, usually through a cloth.

Clearly, there are different types of vegetarians, depending on what foods are avoided in the diet. For example, some vegetarians exclude eggs, others avoid milk, and so on.

It is interesting to note that when vegetarians are compared with their non-vegetarian peers in the same demographic (same socio-economic-cultural background), scientific research shows that vegetarians are less healthy. This explodes the myth that a vegetarian diet is the healthiest way to eat. In fact, peer-reviewed research shows that vegetarians have a higher incidence of diseases such as obesity, heart disease, stroke, eating disorders, cancer, dementia, infertility and other ailments.

Russell Eaton, the author and health expert, is currently offering The Vegetarian Paradox completely free. This explains why vegetarians are less healthy than their non-vegetarian peers. The Vegetarian Paradox makes compelling reading for anybody interested in a healthy diet. You can download a free copy now by going to ==>>

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