Meatless Monday: U.S. Vegetarianism Down By 1%

I read a Gallup survey over the weekend that suggested vegetarianism in the U.S. may be on the decline. In 1999, 6% of the country identified as vegetarian. This year the number dropped to 5%. Could the next few years see even less vegetarienthusiasm?

What's not puzzling about this study is who is more likely to shun meat according to demographic. To nobody's surprise, if you're liberal, single and female, you're slightly more likely to be vegetarian. What is puzzling is that farmers market attendance has skyrocketed and local produce in general has never been more actively sought out. People from all walks of life are learning that processed lunch meats and hot dogs contribute to gastrointestinal cancers and heart disease. And in case kids aren't taught at home, many of them now learn about vegetable gardening and healthy eating in public schools.

It's not a huge drop in percentage by any means — I'd be a lot more worried if it were. I'm no vegetarian, save for a 4-year stint when my cousin came from India to live with us and go to college, but I always observe Meatless Monday and choose a vegetarian option when meat conditions aren't ideal. Some call us "flexitarians." I call us "not vegetarians." I can't help but wonder, is it the increased availability of ideal meat options and second coming of artisan butchery? Bulking up before the apocalypse? Fear of GMO soy? Or is it simply a change of heart/stomach?

Have you ever gone veggie for a few years or even a few months and gone back? Did you grow up vegetarian and move on to meat? And would the 1%-ers like to come to full-on Meatopia with us or is it just a "casual relationship?"

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