Inspiring Lives  > Roper Poll on "Eating Habits of Youths"


"Vegetarian Journal" -- November/December 1995


The Vegetarian Resource Group conducted a Roper Poll of 8 to 17 year olds to find the number of young vegetarians in the United States. There were a few surprises, with some of the numbers being higher than would be expected.


For comparison purposes, we asked the same question as in our adult poll (See Vegetarian Journal July/August, 1994.) "Please call off the items on this list, if any, that you never eat: Meat. Poultry. Fish/Seafood. Dairy Products. Eggs. Honey." Note that in most polls, respondents are asked if they consider themselves vegetarians. We used the word never which should give us a lower but more accurate figure.


A whopping 11% of girls 13-17 said they don't eat meat. This compares to 7% of adult females. This may be a trend. However, generally teenage females answer food questions differently from adults because of greater interest in their weight and appearance. Based on information we received over the Internet, our American figures here correspond with British figures. A 1993 Trent survey of children in England aged 11 to 16 indicated 12% of girls claimed to be vegetarian. Also in Great Britain, in The Daily Telegraph Gallup Poll of May 1993, 11% of 15 to 19 year olds described themselves as vegetarian.


Back to the United States, about 5% of male teenagers don't eat meat, exactly the same as adult men. What's fascinating is that the opposite figures appeared for 8-12 year olds. Eleven percent of boys say they don't eat meat, while only 6% of girls don't eat meat. Is this an inaccurate glitch in the figures or a sign of something to come? Is the meat industry being successful in their campaigns aimed towards males and bringing boys back into the fold? We'll be very curious to see the figures next time we conduct this poll.


Overall, 7% of youngsters say they don't eat poultry, with only 3% of adults abstaining. Gender doesn't affect the figures that much. Not eating fish or seafood is the most surprising finding, with 18% of kids saying they don't eat it. The children's age and gender don't have great impact. Only 4% of adults say they don't eat fish.


The high number of children and teens who do not eat fish can be explained only by postulating. We would have expected many children to at least eat tuna or fish sticks. Are parents no longer serving this? Do the kids not realize they are fish products? Do children just not like fish? This possible trend will also be fascinating to watch the next time VRG does a poll.


Most other figures are in line with our adult poll. As for vegetarians, almost two percent of 8 to 12 year olds say they don't eat meat, fish, or fowl. This is consistent with the adult poll, which came up with 1%, although more females than males are vegetarian among adults. A little over one percent of teens are vegetarian. Our adult figures are close to those reported by the National Livestock and Meat Board from research conducted by MRCA Information Services.


Because we are dealing with a small percentage of the population, it's hard to be sure that we have an accurate picture of vegans. But it appears that, as with adults (disregarding the use of honey), 1/3 to 1/2 of the teen vegetarians are vegan. We wouldn't have predicted this before doing the adult poll, but it makes sense. Many polls give the number of vegetarians as six to 10 percent. These are people who call themselves vegetarian. This is closer to our figure for people who don't eat meat. Of course many in this six to 10 percent figure probably eat meat sometimes. It seems that once a person "truly" becomes vegetarian, that is they don't eat meat, fish, or fowl, they probably continue towards veganism and thus don't consume dairy and eggs. The implication for marketing is that if you are producing a product for vegetarians, you might as well make it vegan (no animal products).


Another confusing result to us is that 4% of teens in the northeast don't eat meat, while the highest number of abstainers from meat are in the central part of the country, with 11%. The west is an average of 8%. As far as vegetarians, the highest number also came out of the Midwest, though with the small numbers we may want to avoid making conclusions too quickly. Racial status doesn't affect the numbers. The percentage of vegetarians is somewhat lower among the upper class than in middle or lower economic situations. Parents having attended college push figures up a little, but not too much. Other factors, such as households owning a personal computer or parents working don't have much of an impact either.


One thousand twenty-three children and teens participated in this poll, which was conducted by interviewing youths at their homes. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4%. Because of the uncertainty inherent in doing all polls and because we are gathering data about a subset of the population, conclusions have to be put in perspective with other information, trends, and past and future surveys.

Vegan Health Study


Michael Klaper, MD, has announced that he and the Institute of Nutrition Education and Research has embarked on a "Vegan Health Study."


The goal of the study is to characterize the unique biochemistry and physiology that result from people eating pure vegetarian diets. The study focusses on a variety of issues, including normal "vegan" levels for Vitamin B12, holotranscobalamin II, ferritin, immune globulins, hormones, etc. The researchers hope to answer the following questions, among many others:


  • Do deficiencies of nutrients develop after many years on a vegan diet?


  • What are the causes of morbidity and mortality among vegans?


  • Is there a "failure-to-thrive" sub-group of vegans, and if so, for what reasons?


More information will be available later. Dr. Klaper is seeking volunteers to be part of the study, as well as grants to offset the expenses of the lab work, etc. Please write: -or- 7040 W. Palmetto Park Road, # 2-281; Boca Raton, FL 33433.


(contd. from page 12) "McLibel Case"


SANCTIONS -- The McLibel Support Campaign believes in the public's right of self-defence, and is now calling for sanctions to be implemented against the McDonald's Corporation:


(1) The National Food Alliance called, on July 17th, for a ban on food advertising targeting children (NFA -- Jeanette 0171 628 2442).


(2) The Farm Animal Welfare Network is demanding immediate legislative action to end the cruel practices identified by the trial judge (FAWN -- Clare 01484 688650).


(3) Trade Unions and labour activists are stepping up their recruitment drive in the catering industry and their campaign for a guaranteed minimum wage (TGWU -- Oliver 0181 809 4977).


(4) Local residents' associations are broadening their objections to new McDonald's stores to include concerns regarding the targeting of local children and the lowering of local wage levels (e.g. NOMAC, North London -- David 0181 347 9857).


McDONALD'S U.S. PRESIDENT REMOVED FROM OFFICE -- Ed Rensi, the Corporation's Chief Executive Officer, was removed from office at the beginning of July along with his management team.


For more details on the Judgement, please contact us or visit the home page at address below.


"U.S. McLibel Support Campaign" -- (802) 586-9628
P.O. Box 62 -- Craftsbury, VT 05826-0062 --