vegetarian signPhoto by Rob Stone.

In the course of writing my two recent posts on vegetarianism, I came across some interesting data. According to a 2011 poll conducted by Harris Interactive:

  • About 2.5 percent of Americans are vegan, saying they never eat meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, or dairy.
  • Another 2.5 percent are lacto-ovo vegetarian, meaning they also skip the flesh but still eat eggs and/or dairy.
  • Add those up and you get 5 percent vegetarian (or, if you take into account the margin of error, 2 to 8 percent).

In addition to the vegetarians, 33 percent of Americans eat meatless meals on a regular basis, the poll found.

There are lots of signs that veggie meals becoming more common even amongst omnivores, from the success of the Meatless Monday campaign to the proliferation of vegetarian ideas in the MSM to recent figures showing declining meat consumption. And more people are trying to eat ethical, eco-friendly meat when they do partake, following the example of food-movement leaders like Michael Pollan and Tom Philpott. As Pollan put it so well, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

On the flip side, 48 percent of poll respondents said they eat meat, poultry, or fish at all meals. All meals? Really? Who has time to fry up bacon for breakfast every morning? Or maybe they’re sprinkling bacon bits on their cereal.