Fast Food all over the country are starting to incorporate vegetarian animal-free food choices thanks to popular demand. Wendy’s is coming out with a Black Bean Veggie Burger, Subway is offering a Vegan menu, Johnny Rockets is testing vegetarian products, Starbucks is trying out Vegan food options to go with their soymilk lattes, Amy’s Kitchen launched a Drive Thru restaurant service free of any meat product and it was a booming success.
Taco Bell has over 20 menu items certified as Vegetarian by the American Vegetarian Association, and food companies like Morningstar, Gardein, and Daiya, have seen increases in sales in the past few years.
Meat free alternatives now exist for everything, from chik’n nuggets and chik’n tenders, to veggie patties, veggie meat crumbles, vegan eggs/cheese, and even veggie bacon. Tons of vegetarian companies exist, such as Morningstar, Daiya, Quorn, Boca, Amy’s Kitchen, and Premium Chocolatiers, to name a few.
With this huge influx of meat-free, milk-free, and egg-free alternatives for decent prices (Veggie nuggets cost about the same as regular nuggets, soymilk costs slightly more than cows milk, etc.)
Now, upon reading all of this, one would think, and rightfully come to the conclusion, that vegetarianism and veganism is on the rise…
While in 1970, only 1% of people considered themselves vegetarian in the US, and now that number is 5%, that number has not moved much since 1999, according to Gallup. In the past 16 years, that Number has remained at a stagnant 5%. 7% among women, who are almost twice as likely to be vegetarian, and make up about 80% of vegans.
Vegetarianism has a rather high drop-out rate too, with over 84% of vegetarians going back to eating some kind of meat in some form. Granted, vegetarians who relapse do tend to still consume more vegetables and less meat than the average American.
But the question remains as to why over 110,000 people can demand a veggie burger from McDonalds, and tons of people everyday watch and agree with videos by people such as FullyRawKristina, UnnaturalVegan, Bite Sized Vegan, The Vegan Atheist and VeganSkeptic, can be pretty popular, along with many others, but there is little to no change in the amount of vegetarians from 1999?
I would say it has more to do with the stigma surrounding Vegetarianism and Veganism especially. UnnaturalVegan mentions it best in her videos talking about Vegan Advocacy, but to sum it up, people view Vegetarians and Vegans as crazy. For example, extremist vegans like Vegan Gains, for example, perpetuate the stereotype of Vegans as overtly emotional annoying pests, and as a result of these kinds of loud and outright terrible acting Vegans, people get drawn away.
This influx of terrible Vegans makes the entire group look bad, kinda like how the majority of society in the US and UK dislike Feminists due to the terrible behavior of modern day feminists, so they are less likely to subscribe to the label despite fitting the definition. Public Relations are a big deal, remember that.
Vegetarianism is also seem more often as a “woman’s thing.” Not only because the statistics show it is, but because being masculine is correlated with eating meat for some odd reason. I have literally heard guys say that if a man ate veggie burgers, that they would view them as less of a man. Which sucks, but the only way to reverse this is to increase the amount of masculine vegetarians and vegans into the blogophere and vlogophere. Doing this will increase perception of vegetarianism as more masculine, and allow an influx of more men into vegetarianism without the need to challenge a man’s masculinity in the process.
But the main part of it is probably because more people are lowering their meat intake, but not eliminating it altogether. Meat Free Monday’s, and Weekday Vegetarianism, is indeed a thing. You go one day a week, or a whole week excluding weekends, without eating any meat for the day. Also, Flexitarian’s are also a thing, where you still eat meat, but as a occasional thing, with most of your diet being vegetable-based. An estimated 30-40% of people in the US at least occasionally consumes some form of vegetarian meal. None of these people are vegetarians, but they are really common, are growing in popularity, and are really beneficial to vegetarianism.
Hopefully, due to the increase of vegetarians worldwide, more moderate and logical vegetarians and Vegans will speak up more, which would cause more people to view vegetarianism as less extremist, and will cause more people to flow into the vegetarian movement and/or diet.