For Immediate Release July 1, 2003
Contacts: John Cunningham (410) 366-VEGE
Jeanne McStay (410) 366-8343


A 2003 National Harris Interactive Survey Question
Sponsored by The Vegetarian Resource Group

Looking at the increased number of vegetarian products now available, there's no question that the interest in vegetarian foods has zoomed in the last few years. Burger King now offers a vegetable burger. Most supermarkets carry soymilk and veggie alternatives to meats.*

The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) estimates that 30-40% of the country's consumers are a good market for meatless items. Four to ten percent of Americans call themselves vegetarians.* But how many people are actually vegetarian? In order to find out the answer to this question, VRG over the years has asked in national polls: Please tell me which of the following foods, if any, you NEVER EAT: Meat, Poultry, Fish/Seafood, Dairy Products, Eggs, Honey.

In a 2003 Vegetarian Resource Group Harris Interactive Survey, 2.8% of those surveyed said they never eat meat, poultry and fish/seafood. A majority of the vegetarians said they never eat meat, poultry, fish/seafood, dairy products, eggs, and honey. Because of margin of error in polling, these numbers should not be taken literally. However, they do reflect well with past figures obtained from previous polls.

About 6% of the population said they never eat meat according to the Harris Interactive poll. This approximately matches results from past VRG polls. Ten percent of 25-34 years olds indicated that they never eat meat. In a different 2000 VRG poll, 10% of 18-29 olds gave a similar answer. No wonder why the food industry is paying attention, and businesses are adding meatless options to their offerings.

Harris Interactive survey methodology: Harris Interactive Inc. surveyed 1,031 adults 18 and older via telephone from February 6-9, 2003. In theory, with a probability sample of this size, one can say with 95% certainty that the results have a statistical precision of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points of what they would be if the entire adult population responded to each question with complete accuracy.

PREVIOUS POLLS AND VRG ESTIMATES: Based on the U.S. 2000 census and 2.8% vegetarians, VRG calculates there are about 5.7 million adult vegetarians in the United States. This is only an estimate.

In 1994 and 1997, The VRG asked a similar question in a Roper Poll. The number of vegetarians then was about one percent, and the number of non-meat eaters was between five and six percent. VRG was told that in future surveys, they could only be sure of a definite statistical movement if the percentages changed by 3 or more percentage points. The jump to 2.8% cannot indicate a trend. However, in the VRG 2000 national Zogby Poll of 968 adults, about 2.5% of the population were vegetarian. So there is some evidence there has been some permanent movement; however these differences still fall within the margin of error for each poll.

*In a 2002 Time/CNN Harris Interactive survey, four percent of Americans polled called themselves vegetarians. According to a survey by the Natural Marketing Institute (Mother Jones, January, 2003), 30 percent of adult American consumers make purchasing decisions based on issues of the environment, social justice, health, etc. For more poll info, see the Market for Vegetarian Foods at (Click on vegetarian business). When deciding to market alternatives to meat, companies may focus on the larger market. For example, Burger King makes no claim that their BK Veggie Burger meets the requirements of a vegan or vegetarian diet. Other companies may go after the greater segment, but also appeal to the vegetarians, and especially vegans, since that is the population most likely to push their product.

Harris Interactive ( is a worldwide market research and consulting firm best known for The Harris PollŪ, and for pioneering the Internet method to conduct scientifically accurate market research. Headquartered in Rochester, New York, U.S.A., Harris Interactive combines proprietary methodologies and technology with expertise in predictive, custom and strategic research. The Company conducts international research through wholly owned subsidiaries-London-based HI Europe and Tokyo-based Harris Interactive Japan-as well as through the Harris Interactive Global Network of local market-and opinion-research firms, and various U.S. offices. EOE M/F/D/V

(Figures are rounded)
Please tell me which of the following foods, if any, you NEVER eat.
21% honey
13% fish or seafood
7% eggs
6% meat
6% poultry
6% dairy products
4% meat and poultry
2.8% meat, poultry, fish, seafood
1.8% meat, poultry, fish, seafood, dairy products, eggs, honey

The Vegetarian Resource Group is a non-profit organization which educates the public about vegetarianism. Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, and fowl. Vegans are vegetarians who also do not use other animal products such as dairy and eggs. A helpful book for vegans is Simply Vegan (ISBN 0-931411-20-3) by Debra Wasserman and Reed Mangels, Ph.D., RD. It contains easy-to-understand nutrition information as well and quick-and-easy vegetarian recipes.

For more information on vegetarianism or poll information, visit Or contact The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203; (410) 366-8343.


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September 15, 2003

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