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Will Vegetarianism One Day Be the Norm?

Written by Jimmy Rustling

Many vegans and vegetarians hope to eventually see their eating habits become the norm, pushing people to a more ethical, sustainable, and potentially healthy way of living. But is vegetarianism all it’s cracked up to be? And does it have the potential to eventually become the norm?

The Statistics

We can start the discussion by exploring trends related to vegetarian eating; for the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing primarily on vegetarianism in the United States. Currently, between 2 and 6 percent of Americans self-identify as vegetarians; that’s not very much, but this percentage does seem to be increasing over the short-term, slightly.

One important thing to note about this study is that these vegetarians are self-described. Around 60 percent of survey respondents who identified as vegetarians also reported eating meat at least once in the past two consecutive 24-hour periods. In other words, many self-described vegetarians are not vegetarians in the strictest sense. Only 1 percent of self-identified vegetarians report never consuming meat – and that number hasn’t grown much since the mid-1990s.

Factors Pushing for More Vegetarians

We do see significant potential for vegetarianism becoming more popular and more widely adopted, especially in the United States.

These are just some of the factors pushing for its development:

  • Food product development. Many food product development companies, including Griffith Foods, are helping their customers be able to offer more vegetarian and vegan options.Thanks to the accommodation of restaurants, food brands, and retail stores offering more vegetarian and vegan options, it’s easier than ever to transition to vegetarianism. You can continue enjoying nutritious and delicious meals even after you give up meat; you’ll have support from plenty of businesses as you search for alternative food options. This wasn’t always the case.
  • Concerns about meat production. Some people are switching to vegetarianism with more vigor because they’re increasingly concerned about the current state of meat production. There are several things to be concerned about in this area. For starters, people are increasingly concerned about animal welfare in the agricultural industry. Factory farms, in an effort to reduce costs and increase production as much as possible, sometimes cram animals tightly together in uncomfortable situations, leaving their animals with short and miserable lives. If you’re not ethically concerned about the treatment of animals in factory farm conditions, you may be concerned about the environmental impact of meat production. Because meat is much more energy intensive than other forms of food, it’s considered less sustainable – and it has a much bigger impact on the environment than comparable agricultural pursuits. If you’re also not concerned about the environmental sustainability of meat, you may be concerned about increasing meat costs and meat shortages that may be awaiting us in the future.
  • Meat substitute technology. We also need to acknowledge that many alternative proteins taste and feel like the real thing. For decades, vegetarian and vegan activists have been pushing for alternatives like tofu and burger patties made from plant proteins, but many of these artificial substitutes either didn’t taste good or didn’t feel like meat, ultimately preventing people who genuinely love meat from ever transitioning to vegetarianism. But these days, a growing number of companies are showing promising capabilities of producing meat-like foods that don’t include any animal products whatsoever. These capabilities will only develop further in the future, introducing vegetarian and vegan options to people who never want to give up the taste and texture of meat.
  • Public favoritism and a sense of belonging. Generally, views on vegetarianism have evolved to become more favorable. In the 1970s, vegetarians were considered followers of a fringe strategy, or were lumped in with the hippie movement. These days, vegetarianism is a much more respected and popular choice. Some people pursue vegetarianism simply because they like the idea of feeling like they belong with a group of other like-minded people. As vegetarianism grows and develops, its popularity could become self-sustaining because of this phenomenon.

Resistance to Vegetarianism

However, despite these factors pushing for the popularity of vegetarianism, there’s also some resistance to vegetarianism. As we’ve seen, most self-identified vegetarians still indulge in meat at least occasionally, and with the sheer quantity of different meat products available to us, it’s hard to totally resist.

We also need to acknowledge that there are some groups of people that disparage vegetarianism and take pride in the fact that they eat meat; such people are likely to insist that they’ll double their own meat consumption to offset whatever value a vegetarian thinks they are providing. These people aren’t going to change their habits or their mentality simply because vegetarianism is becoming slightly more popular.

So what’s the future of vegetarianism? Vegetarianism, and by extension, veganism and flexitarianism, will undoubtedly become more popular over time. But it may never truly become the norm.

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About the author

Jimmy Rustling

Born at an early age, Jimmy Rustling has found solace and comfort knowing that his humble actions have made this multiverse a better place for every man, woman and child ever known to exist. Dr. Jimmy Rustling has won many awards for excellence in writing including fourteen Peabody awards and a handful of Pulitzer Prizes. When Jimmies are not being Rustled the kind Dr. enjoys being an amazing husband to his beautiful, soulmate; Anastasia, a Russian mail order bride of almost 2 months. Dr. Rustling also spends 12-15 hours each day teaching their adopted 8-year-old Syrian refugee daughter how to read and write.