Vegetarianism is a relatively popular type of diet. There are a variety of interesting statistics and facts about this way of eating.
Below you can find a short list of some of the most popular findings about this no-meat diet and after that even more interesting statistics and facts and where these come from.
Keep in mind that the figures below are often estimations from smaller studies and surveys. These things generally come with a lot of biases, suboptimal sample selection, and measurement errors. In reality, these numbers will likely vary for the overall population, sometimes by a lot.
Quick overview of popular vegetarian statistics
To start you can find a few of the most popular vegetarian statistics, facts, and estimations implied from the investigated data in a quick overview.
- The most popular motivation for eating less meat seems to be improving health. Other popular motivations are the environment, food safety, and animal welfare.
- One source estimates that the worldwide market revenue of plant-based meat increased 112.65% from 2016 to 2021.
- About 52% to 60% of vegetarians are female.
- One source estimates that the worldwide market revenue of plant-based meat in 2021 was 7749 million USD.
- The main reason non-vegetarians consider this diet seems to be health-related. The environment and animal rights seem to be less common motivators.
- 12.1% of the participants of a big U.S. survey had tried (10.2%) or were doing (1.9%) a vegetarian diet.
- In surveys where the difference was mentioned, around 24% – 50% of vegetarians were also vegan.
- In one survey, 38% of the 968 vegetarian-only participants said they had been vegetarian for more than 5 years.
- In a different survey, of the people in the survey who did not stick to a vegetarian/vegan diet, 34% (or one third) stopped in the first 3 months.
- In a quick poll on our Instagram page, 34.4% of the people who answered said they have tried the vegetarian diet before.
In the rest of this article you can find more interesting statistics about this diet and where these numbers come from.
1. Number of vegetarians worldwide
This is a big difference but that is something to expect from a subject like this for such a large number of people from so many different places and cultures.
India is typically considered to be the country with the population that has the highest percentage of vegetarians.
Below you can find some statistics about the number of individuals on a vegetarian diet by country.
2. Vegetarians in the United States
The most recent vegetarian statistic in the United States in this article is one poll with 1033 adults in 2018 that observed that in their sample, 5% of participants said they were vegetarian (4).
This is very similar to the past polls of the same organization in 2012 (5%), 2001 (6%), and 1999 (6%). Additionally, 3% of the participants considered themselves to be vegan.
The next poll questioned 2015 U.S. adults ages 18 and older in 2016. In this poll, 3.3% of the participants were vegetarian (with vegans included) (5).
A survey from 2014 with 11399 U.S. participants observed that 1.5% were current vegetarians and 0.5% current vegans. So in total, about 2% in the typical definition of “vegetarian” (6).
So in short, these statistics imply that somewhere around 2%-5% of the U.S. participants were vegetarian.
3. Vegetarians in the UK
One poll with 2074 respondents in the UK observed that 7% of the individuals answered that they were vegetarian (7).
The Food And You Wave 5 survey in 2018 with 2241 interviews found that 3% said they were completely vegetarian and 1% said they were completely vegan (8).
The Wave 4 Survey from the same Food And You surveys in 2016 with 3118 participants measured the same numbers (9)
Another survey from Ipsos in 2018 questioned 20313 people in 28 countries including the UK. 65 of the 1000 individuals from Great Britain, 6.5%, said they were vegetarian (10). An additional 35 people, 3.5% said they were vegan.
So these surveys imply that about 4%-9% of their UK participants were vegetarian.
4. Vegetarians in India
The first statistic came from surveying about 30000 adults across India in 2019-2020. This big survey measured that 39% of the participants said they followed a vegetarian diet (11).
A different survey from 2015-2016 with 28586 participants suggests that 30 percent of women and 22 percent of men in India are vegetarians (12).
Lastly, a survey in India from 2014 with 8858 participants with individuals aged 15 years and above concluded that 28.4% of their male participants and 29.3% of their female participants were vegetarians (13).
In short, these surveys imply that at least 22%-39% of their Indian participants were vegetarian.
5. Vegetarians in Canada
A survey from Canada in 2020 with 1559 responses measured that 3.2% said they were vegetarian and 4.6% that they were vegan (14).
Another survey from Canada in 2018 with 1027 participants measured that 3.3% of the individuals considered themselves vegetarian and 1.1% considered themselves vegan (15).
These statistics imply that in these surveys from Canada about 4.4% – 7.8% of the participants were vegetarian in the sense that they didn’t eat animal meat.
6. Vegetarians in Australia
One survey from 2018 with 14913 Australian participants measured that 12.1% of their participants were vegetarian (16). A survey from the same organization, Roy Morgan, in 2016 with 19167 Australians measure that 11.2% were vegetarians (17).
7. Vegetarians in Ireland
The Irish Food Board estimates from a survey in 2018 with 9,000 interviews in a variety of countries including Ireland, that 4.3% of the people in Ireland are vegetarians (18).
8. Vegetarians in New Zealand
The data from the number of vegetarians in New Zealand is a bit vaguer but there still are some statistics that can give you a better idea.
The Better Futures report from 2018 surveyed 1000 participants and measured that 10% of their participants went “always/mostly” went meat-free (19).
The report from the same organization in 2019 observed that 15% of participants said the same (20).
9. Vegetarians in Germany
One poll from Germany with 1001 participants of 14 years and older observed that 10% of their participants from the 2021 version said they were vegetarian and 2% said they were vegan (21).
In the year before that, only 5% said they were vegetarian and 1% said they were vegan.
A different poll from Smart Protein in 2021 observed that about 7% of German participants said they were vegetarian and 3% said they were vegan (22).
In short, in these surveys about 10%-12% of the German participants said they were vegetarian.
10. Why do people go vegetarian?
Vegetarians follow more or less the same eating habits but they do this for different reasons. Unfortunately, there is currently not much precise data about this. Even so, there are a few interesting statistics.
A survey from the Humane Research Council in 2014 with 11399 U.S. participants asked the 221 current vegetarians/vegans in their sample.
69% mentioned health, 68% animal protection, 63% feelings of disgust about animal products, 59% environmental concern, and 52% taste preferences (6).
One survey of people in the United Kingdom suggests that of their participants health is the most common reason for limiting or reducing meat consumption (49%).
Similarly, a survey in 2019 with 2431 U.S. adults over the age of 18 questioned individuals who ate less meat or rarely ate meat what their reasons for doing so were.
70% of these people considered health, 49% environment, 43% food safety, and 41% animal welfare, a major reason for doing so (23) (having multiple major reasons was allowed).
Another website polled their vegan audience from 97 different countries in 2018 about the main reason why they followed this diet.
Of the 12814 people who responded, 68.1% said they went vegan for the animals, 17.4% said they went vegan for health reasons, 9.7% said they went vegan for the environment, and lastly 4.8% for other reasons (24).
These statistics are not for people who are only vegetarians and likely do not represent the world population. However, this does give somewhat of an idea what the main motivations of people who follow a vegetarian diet.
Health and animal concerns currently seem to be the main reasons why people go vegetarian, followed by environmental concerns.
11. What percentage of vegetarians is female vs male?
Another interesting statistic is the difference in the number of females vs males who follow a vegetarian diet.
One survey of 20313 people in 28 countries in 2018 from Ipsos observed that 6% of their female participants were vegetarian vs 4% of their male participants (2).
A survey of 3069 people from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in 2018 observed that 13% of the females and 9% of the males were vegetarian or vegan (25).
The next poll questioned 2015 U.S. adults ages 18 and older in 2016. In this poll, 3.5% of the females vs 3.2% of the males were vegetarian (5).
These statistics imply that in the countries investigated about 52% to 60% of vegetarians are female.
12. Vegetarianism search trends
Vegetarianism (and veganism) seem to get more media attention these days. A question is if this also motivates more people to search for vegetarian-related search terms that indicate that people try this diet out more.
Google Trends is a tool that shows you how much interest in certain search terms evolves over time for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular.
We added up the months to get “searches” (relative differences) per year, compared a few vegetarian-related search terms worldwide, and found some of the following trends:
- Compared to 2004, the number of searches of the popular term “vegetarian” was down 23.44% in 2008.
- Compared to 2008, the number of searches of the term “vegetarian” was up 37.17% in 2019.
- Compared to 2019, the number of searches of the term “vegetarian” was down 24.65% in 2021.
- The number of worldwide searches of the term “vegetarian recipes” was highest in 2010. With some ups and downs along the way, the number of searches of this term in 2021 was only 56% of the 2010 total.
- Compared to 2004, the number of searches of the term “vegetarian restaurants” was 44.92% higher in 2019. In the years after that, restaurants took a hit in general.
Part of these numbers is due to other reasons like the popularity of Google and their tracking.
Even so, these numbers indicate that the number of searches on google for these search terms was slowly climbing until 2019. After that, potentially due to the lockdowns, the interest in vegetarian-related search terms went down.
This first graph shows the relative interest in search terms like “vegetarian restaurants”, “vegetarian food near me”, “vegetarian diet”, “vegetarian recipes”, and “vegetarian meals”.
13. Common vegetarian nutrient deficiencies/insufficiencies
While many people experience benefits from the vegetarian diet, it is also important to talk about the possible downsides.
Removing meat from your diet also means consuming less of certain nutrients that are known to be important for good health.
You also want to make sure you vary your plant-based protein sources to get essential amino acids in sufficient amounts (28).
Something else to keep in mind is that it is not yet known what the ideal human diet is, what specific nutrients you need in what amounts. Removing meat can have effects that are not yet understood.
On top of that, there are many genetic differences that again influence what diet is the best for you personally.
14. How old are vegetarians?
Partly because the vegetarian diet is gradually getting more and more media attention, you would expect that higher percentages of the younger generations would follow this diet. The statistics seem to agree.
One survey of 20313 people in 28 countries in 2018 from Ipsos observed that of their participants under 35 years old, 6% were vegetarian compared to 3% of their participants from 35-64 years old (2).
A different, smaller poll with 1033 adults from the USA in 2018 observed that in their sample, 7% of the 18-29 year olds, 8% of the 30-49 year olds, 3% of the 50-64 year olds, and 2% of the 65+ year olds were vegetarian (4).
The next poll questioned 2015 U.S. adults ages 18 and older in 2016. In this poll, 5.3% of of ages 18-34, 3.1% of ages 35-44, 2.2% of ages 45-54, 2.7% of ages 55-64, and 1.8% ages 65+ were vegetarian (5).
Another survey of 3069 people from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in 2018 observed that of 13% of the participants between 16-34 years old, 11% of the 35-64 year olds, and 9% of the 65+ year olds were vegetarian, partly vegetarian or vegan (25).
So in short, these statistics imply that in the countries investigated bigger parts of the younger generations are vegetarian compared to older generations. Generally, the older the fewer vegetarians.
How many vegetarians this comes down to in absolute numbers depends on the population distribution of these countries.
15. Meat substitutes
Meat substitutes are a category of foods and products that try to replace the taste, texture, and/or nutrients from meat.
With the increased media attention to reducing meat intake, these products tend to be more and more popular and available.
One source estimates that the worldwide market revenue of plant-based meat was 3644 million USD in 2016 and increased 112.65% to 7749 million USD in 2021 (31).
Below you can also find another Google Trends graph that compares how much the search terms “vegan meat substitutes”, “plant based meat substitutes”, and “vegetarian meat substitutes” get searched worldwide over time compared to each other.
After that, there is a similar graph that shows the trend of people searching “meat substitutes” worldwide and over time.
16. At least 4 popular types of vegetarianism
In its essence, vegetarianism comes down to not eating any meat and flesh of animals. There are however a variety of types of vegetarian diets that implement extra rules on top of that. Some of the real vegetarian diets include:
- Ovo-lacto vegetarianism: still includes eggs and dairy products. Same as vegetarian diet.
- Lacto vegetarianism: also excludes eggs, still includes dairy products
- Ovo vegetarianism: also excludes dairy products, still includes eggs
- Veganism: also excludes eggs, dairy, and animal by-products from the diet. Some people also avoid any non-diet animal products.
Additionally, there are also diets that lean towards being vegetarian but are not quite there yet. Some of these include:
- Pescatarianism: Mostly vegetarian but still includes fish and seafood
- Pollotarian: Mostly vegetarian but still includes poultry and fowl
- Flexitarian: Mostly vegetarian but with the occasional meat product
These are the most common types of vegetarianism. Inevitably some people will have their own specific versions of the diet.
17. How many people are open to vegetarianism
The current number of vegetarians is decent but many people would like to see this number go even higher. Is there hope for these people and what are some of the main reasons people consider following a vegetarian diet?
One survey in 2019 with 2431 U.S. adults over the age of 18 asked “in the past 12 months, have you been eating more meat, less meat, or about the same amount?”
31% of the women and 15% of the men in this sample answered less which resulted overall in 23% of these people eating less meat in the 12 months before (23).
One 2021 survey of 1063 French individuals observed that 48% of these people tried to cut back on meat consumption in the past 3 years.
30% of the total participants responded that they want to cut back their meat consumption more in the next 3 years (32).
One survey questioned 8227 English and Dutch individuals to find out the main reasons why non-vegetarians would consider going on this diet.
They concluded that health was the main motive for non-vegetarians to consider vegetarian diets. Environmental and animal rights motives were less common but often play a role too (33).
On the third of January 2022 we even conducted a quick 24-hour poll on our own Instagram page with the question “Will you try/continue a vegetarian diet in 2022?” that could be answered with “Yes” or “No”.
105 people responded to this poll. 30.5% of these people answered yes, 69.5% of these people answered no.
18. How many people have ever tried a vegetarian diet?
Even if they don’t stick to it, a good amount of people have still given the vegetarian diet a try.
One survey from 2014 with 11399 U.S. participants measured that 10.2% of the people were former vegetarians/vegans and 1.9% current vegetarians/vegans.
So this survey suggests that about 12.1% of the U.S. participants had tried or were doing a vegetarian diet (6).
Similar to the “how many people are open to a vegetarian diet” statistic, we also conducted a quick 24-hour poll on our Instagram page with the question “Have you ever tried a vegetarian diet?” that could be answered with “Yes” or “No”.
131 people responded to this poll. 34.4% of these people answered yes, 65.6% of these people answered no.
19. How many vegetarians are also vegan?
Following a vegetarian diet means not eating any animal meats. Vegans take this one step further and also avoid cheese and eggs. That means all vegans are vegetarians but not the opposite.
There are some statistics to get a better idea of what the distribution is between these two types of diets. Something to keep in mind with these surveys is the limited sample size.
Another poll from 2019 with 2027 U.S. adults ages 18 and older observed that 4% of participants were vegetarians (vegans included). 2% of the participants were vegan too (34). This implies that about 50% of the vegetarians in this poll were also vegan.
One survey of 20313 people in 28 countries in 2018 from Ipsos observed that 5% of their participants were vegetarian only and 3% vegan-only (2). This implies that of the technical “vegetarians” 37.5% were also vegans.
In one survey from 2014 with 11399 U.S. participants, 54 people (0.5%) described themselves as currently vegan. 167 other individuals (1.5%) described themselves as current vegetarians. So in this survey of all the technical “vegetarians”, 24% were also vegans (6).
All in all, these statistics imply that about 24%-50% of vegetarians are also vegans.
20. Day(s) to celebrate vegetarianism
While people usually start the vegetarian diet with the goal of sticking to it, there are a few days and periods on which vegetarianism gets extra attention.
October 1st is typically considered to be the world vegetarian day (35). Some people take it even one step further and celebrate the first week of October as International Vegetarian Week or the whole month of October as vegetarian awareness month.
PETA also “created” Hug a Vegetarian Day (36) This is celebrated every year on the fourth Friday of September.
These day(s) are generally celebrated by paying attention to eating less or no meat, and as the name of the last day implies, hugging someone who is vegetarian.
21. How long do people stick to a vegetarian diet?
Some people question the sustainability of the vegetarian diet. Others claim it is a diet that is easy to stick to once you are used to it. The reality will likely be somewhere in between.
In any case, there are some statistics that try to give a better impression of how long people stick to a vegetarian diet.
One survey from Ipsos of 20313 people in 28 countries in 2018 asked the 968 vegetarian-only (so no vegans) how long they had been following the diet.
16% of the people were vegetarian for about a month, 17% about 6 months, 17% about a year, 11% 2-5 years, and 38% more than 5 years (2).
A different survey from 2014 with 11399 U.S. participants asked both the former (1166 individuals) and current vegetarians/vegans (221 individuals) how long they stuck to/were on these diets (6). They got the following responses:
|Duration Of Adherence||Former|
|Up To 3 Months||34%||5%|
|More Than 10 Years||6%||58%|
This implies that of the people in the survey who did not stick to a vegetarian/vegan diet, 34% (or one-third) stopped in the first 3 months.
Important to note is that this does not say anything about the eating habits before and after trying out the vegetarian diet. It is possible that these people are still on a low-meat, flexitarian, diet.
22. Number of books about vegetarian diets
Another interesting statistic about vegetarianism is the number of books on the subject. To investigate this we went to one of the biggest bookstores in the world, the website Amazon.
This website offers an advanced search option where you can filter the search results among other things by release date.
We looked at how many book search results there were with the keyword “vegetarian” with a release date before a variety of years. A downside is that for big numbers the numbers get rounded down.
Additionally, there are inevitably many other reasons why this data is not perfect. Even so, it still offers an interesting look at how much the number of books about vegetarianism has gone up.
There were only more than 4 thousand vegetarian book results with a publish date before 2004. This went up to more than 10 thousand vegetarian book results with publish date before 2016.
And even to more than 60 thousand vegetarian book results with a publish date before 2021.
Below you can find the results we found in a graph and a screenshot of where we got these numbers.