Majority of US vegetarians revert to meat, finds study
Published:  08 December, 2014

An American study has revealed that the large majority of vegetarians in the US cannot resist going back to eating meat, with 84% failing to stick to a meat-free diet.

The Human Research Council (HRC) described its research as “the most comprehensive ever conducted” on former and current vegetarians, drawn from a sample of more than 11,000 adults. The results not only showed that over eight in 10 vegetarians gave up the diet, more than half of them did so within a year, and one-third within three months or less.

The study revealed that 88% of Americans have never been vegetarian, 10% are former vegetarians, and 2% are current vegetarians. Former vegetarians had an average age of 48, having first adopted the diet at around 34. Around half of former vegetarians are over 50, while two-thirds of them are women.

It concluded that vegetarians find it difficult to completely abstain from meat, with 43% of lapsed vegetarians saying they found it too difficult to maintain a “pure” diet. The research also outlined the main difficulties former vegetarians said they had faced; over 60% said that they disliked that their diet made them stick out from the crowd.

The majority of former vegetarians said they initially took up the diet for health reasons, with 58% naming health as the number one motivator.

One positive for those who strive to popularise meat-free diets is that more than a third (37%) of former vegetarians/vegans said they were interested in re-adopting the diet.