There is no doubt that the world is seeing a shift from meat-based diets to plant-based diets if one looks at the situation objectively. As the internet keeps spreading information to more and more places, we can only expect this trend to continue, and more people join it.
So, we will talk about all the important statistics regarding the rise of vegetarianism and the reasons that explain this rise. We will also guide you about different types of vegetarianism and how you can become one.
Are More People Becoming Vegetarian?
If one looks at the statistics coming from different reports, surveys, and research, it becomes clear that the world is seeing a rise in vegetarianism. The trend can be observed in both the developed and developing world. Let us look at the statistics of some individual countries and global statistics to get a complete picture.
Veganuary in the UK
Vegetarianism in the Developing World
However, vegetarianism is not just limited to the UK, as its numbers rise worldwide. Our second example comes from Nigeria, where vegetarians grew to 1.4 million people in just a single year. The number of vegetarians in developing and middle-income countries is rising steadily.
Take Pakistan and Indonesia, where vegetarians are 1.19 million and 270,000, respectively. These countries have seen a significant uptick in their vegetarian population for multiple reasons.
Vegetarianism in Germany & the US
You can also add Germany and the US to the list, seeing the number of vegetarians increase significantly in recent years. The number of vegetarians in Germany has shot up by 1.19 million since 2014. In addition to that, 42% of Germans have limited their meat consumption and switched to plant-based diets.
Fifteen years ago, there were only 290,000 vegetarians in the US. Fast forward to today, there are 9.7 million vegetarians in the US. With that said, non-white Americans are more likely to become vegetarians than white Americans are.
Additionally, estimates show that the number of vegetarians in the US will increase further. As more and more people reduce their meat consumption due to several factors, plant-based diets are gaining popularity all across the US. Besides that, most think it is a long-term change, and vegetarianism will rise further in the future.
Vegetarianism Among Millennials, Gen Xers & Boomers
The vegetarian diet is also popular amongst the millennial generation, as 22% of them have tried vegetarianism at some point. The percentage for Gen Xers stands at 13%, and 11% for baby boomers.
India – A Vegetarian Heaven
India has always been vegetarian heaven because of the predominant presence of Hindus. However, recent years have seen an even larger number of people turning vegan. Those who want to switch to a vegan diet represent 63% of the total population.
Vegan alternatives are slowly penetrating the market, meaning most of the population will be vegan in the near future.
Global Statistics on Vegetarianism
If we zoom out a little and look at global vegetarian statistics, the total number comes out to be a whopping 1.5 billion, 22% of the world's population. Many of them avoid meat out of necessity. Some have health issues, while others cannot afford meat—people who are vegetarians by choice amount to 75 million, 1% of the global population.
Why are People Becoming Vegetarians?
Those who become vegetarian do it for multiple reasons, such as health issues, environmental concerns, religious inclinations, etc. Let us delve into why there is a rise in vegetarianism these days.
People have switched to vegetarian diets for several reasons in the past. However, the biggest reason behind this switch is global warming or climate change. As we all know, climate change has a devastating impact on our ecology, and one of the biggest reasons behind that is our diet.
Meat consumption is directly linked with global warming because the meat industry relies on a highly inefficient and unsustainable business model. 9% of total carbon emissions come from the meat industry. In addition to that, cows emit methane, an even more potent greenhouse gas than carbon.
A pound of beef uses around 1,800 gallons of water from start to end. On the other hand, vegetables and crops such as wheat use much less water, 20 times less than the amount used for meat production.
Besides causing environmental issues, the meat industry is also extremely cruel and treats animals terribly. It is no secret that female pigs are kept in tight cages with little to no space to move. They can only stand inside them for the rest and are inseminated multiple times for the farm to be more productive and profitable.
Cows are also subjected to a similar treatment. Their calves are separated from them at a young age so that they do not affect milk production. Instead of feeding the calves, the milk is bottled and sold in the market for human consumption.
The story of chickens is quite similar too. They are injected with all types of antibiotics and stuffed with extra calories to grow them quickly. As a result, they gain so much weight that their skeleton can no longer support their weight. Ultimately, they cannot even move and keep lying in one place until slaughtered for meat.
A meat-based diet is associated with multiple health issues such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, etc. Mostly, red meat is responsible for these issues because it contains many harmful materials to human health.
Meat-eaters have 18% more chances of developing colon cancer. On the opposite end, vegetarians have a 40% less chance of developing cancer.
Fruits and vegetables are good for health and provide you with all the essential nutrients if you consume them carefully. Moreover, switching to a vegetarian diet usually means consuming fewer calories, resulting in weight loss or healthy weight maintenance.
Types of Vegetarianism
Even after the unprecedented dissemination of information through the internet, many people still don't understand vegetarianism. They still think of it as a monolith where everyone doesn't eat meat and relies on plants. We are here to tell you that there are not two or three but eight different types of vegetarianism.
The first type on our list is lacto vegetarianism. Lacto means dairy, so Lacto vegetarians are the vegetarians that do not eat meat like other vegetarians. However, they allow themselves to consume dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and butter. It is important to note that Lacto vegetarians do not consume eggs and egg-based products.
There can be multiple reasons behind adopting such a diet, such as not being able to give up on dairy products, trying to fulfill the protein requirements, etc.
Ovo means egg or ovum, so ovo-vegetarianism is the type of vegetarianism that involves the consumption of eggs and egg-based products while avoiding meat and dairy. The reasons behind this diet are that people cannot give up on eggs or want to fulfill their nutritional requirements from them.
Lacto-ovo-vegetarianism mixes Lacto-vegetarianism and ovo-vegetarianism by including dairy and eggs in the diet while avoiding meat. Nutritionally, it makes sense to have such a diet because you get ample protein from eggs and dairy, so there is no worry about not meeting your protein targets.
Moreover, different people have different ideas about animal welfare. Lacto-ovo-vegetarians think it is perfectly ethical to consume eggs and dairy while avoiding meat altogether.
Veganism is the second most restrictive diet under the vegetarian umbrella. Vegans avoid eggs, dairy products, and all kinds of meat. In addition to that, they remove all animal by-products such as honey, gelatin, etc., from their diet too.
Whenever vegans buy their food, they read the packaging carefully to see if the product contains any product derived from animals. Unsurprisingly, it is the most difficult dietary habit to keep, as your choices get severely limited.
Raw veganism is the hardest and most restrictive diet on this list, as it only allows uncooked plants and vegetables, excluding everything else from your plate. Usually, people with esoteric lifestyles or those who want to live like our ancestors adopt this diet.
Whether to consider pescetarianism as part of the vegetarian diet is a debate that keeps raging. However, to inform you about the overall idea of vegetarianism, it is important to mention pescetarianism. It involves eating fish, shellfish, and other seafood while eliminating other meats, eggs, and dairy.
Usually, consuming such a diet is to avoid red meat because of its environmental toll on the planet. Moreover, pescetarians can get high-quality protein from fish without consuming much meat in their diet.
Pollotarianism is another modification to vegetarianism, which involves the consumption of poultry such as chicken and turkey but abstinence from red meat. It is usually adopted as a stepping-stone towards completely avoiding meat and a plant-based diet. However, some adopt it to keep their protein intake sufficient while avoiding the bad effects of red meat on health.
Flexitarianism is, as its name suggests, a flexible diet routine. Flexitarians do not completely avoid meat of any type because they want to keep their diet flexible and see what suits them and what doesn't.
Usually, people go for it when transitioning from meat-eating to vegetarianism to see which options are viable for them medically, financially, and nutritionally.
In addition to that, some people do not have enough motivation to switch to vegetarianism completely suddenly, so they bring a change slowly and steadily while reducing their meat consumption too, let us say, once or twice a week.
How to Get Started Becoming Vegetarian?
Switching to a completely different diet is never easy, and so is the case for those who want to switch from meat-eating to a plant-based diet. It is a process of trial and error that you should take patiently. Let's discuss some tips you can try for switching to vegetarianism successfully.
Evolution always bests revolution in real life, which is also true if you want to become a vegetarian. Once you have consumed meat for a long time, it is never easy to get rid of it. However, if you make the transition gradually and steadily, you can ultimately make the switch like millions of others.
You should try eliminating beef and pork first since they are comparatively easy to get rid of. Once you have done that, get rid of the chicken. Finally, eliminate fish, which you might not be consuming as frequently as beef and chicken anyway. Try going vegetarian 2 or 3 days a week and not seven all of a sudden. Start with one day every week if you can't even do that.
Determine Your Protein Sources
If there's one issue that always comes up in a vegetarian diet, it is the lack of sufficient protein. However, it doesn't mean it is an inherent problem with the vegetarian diet. Rather, it is poor vegetarian planning that results in protein deficiency.
Therefore, it is crucial to ensure you get enough protein by listing your sources. Seeds, nuts, beans, lentils, etc., are all healthy protein sources. Similarly, if you don't want to go full vegetarian, you can also consume eggs and dairy, depending on your taste.
If you still don't get enough protein, try looking for a vegetarian protein powder, which can fulfill your protein requirements easily.
Don’t be Afraid of Experimentation
People often mistakenly think that there is a lack of variety in vegetarian dishes, due to which many are discouraged and do not want to switch. However, it is not true, as vegetarian dishes have many varieties.
Whether you take advantage of that variety or not depends upon you entirely. Try different vegetables every week to experience the variety in taste and make different dishes from them.
And That’s A Wrap
No one reason can entirely explain why we are witnessing more people joining the vegetarian movement. However, more important is that change is happening, and more people are joining the plant-based movement.
If you are also considering being a part of it, switching is not as hard as many people make it be. With some dedication and consistency, you can also make a switch and enjoy improved health and a better planet.