Disquieting survey data: Veggie's not veggie after all, more often than anyone thought...
- [Disquieting survey data: Veggie's not veggie after all, more often
than anyone thought...]
Article Last Updated: 11/01/2005
Research on vegetarians difficult to stomach
Inside Bay Area
I WAS reading an article about vegetarians last week, and it reminded
me of one of the strangest surveys I've ever come across.
A few years ago a periodical called the Vegetarian Times commissioned
a study in which the pollsters set out to come up with new
information on the estimated 12 million people in the United States
who describe themselves as vegetarians. They seem to have succeeded
beyond their wildest expectations.
They discovered, for example, that the average vegetarian is slightly
older than the general population and that two-thirds of them are
women. Also, in a finding that must have warmed editorial hearts at
the Vegetarian Times, researchers found that vegetarians, in general,
are somewhat better educated than the general public.
But that's where the study began to turn into the survey with the
lunatic fringe on top.
THINGS BEGAN getting goofy when the researchers asked the respondents
how they felt about this statement: "In order to satisfy my appetite,
a main meal must include meat." Half the vegetarians said they agreed
Perhaps not sure they had heard right (or maybe checking their
clipboards to make sure they had the right name and address), the
researchers asked for more specific information. And they got it.
Among the findings on vegetarians' eating habits:
Four out of 10 report daily or weekly consumption of animal products.
Two-thirds eat chicken, and a third eat red meat.
Six percent said they were eating more beef now than they were four years ago.
Only 4 percent said they never eat animal products - which, unless
the laws of mathematics have been repealed, seems to indicate that 96
percent of vegetarians do eat animal products.
What the heck's going on here?
IS IT possible that many people who call themselves vegetarians think
that it means someone who enjoys French fries and onion rings with
Or was it possible that I had been misinterpreting the term all my life?
No. I checked Webster's Collegiate and found: vegetarian n. One who
believes that plants afford the only proper food for man. Strict
vegetarians eat no butter, eggs, or milk.
So I'm at a loss to explain this strange survey, as I imagine the
researchers must have been, too. I don't know what they did when they
received those findings back at the Vegetarian Times - possibly
phoned Armour's and Foster Farms to see if they'd be interested in
buying ad space.
The only explanation I can think of is that the researchers
misunderstood the assignment and went out and interviewed a bunch of
WE DON'T need any more confusion in this already lunatic world, and
perhaps the only thing to do now is fall to our knees and pray to God
that no more mind-numbing surveys come along soon.
Unless, of course, you're an atheist, and pray only half the time.