What do vegetarians in the United States eat?

modified 2018-10-11

What do vegetarians in the United States eat?

In short:

People were asked if they considered themselves vegetarian, then later asked if they ate meat that day.

Results:

64% of “vegetarians” ate meat (includes fish)! The diet of the self-defined “vegetarians” was generally held to be healthier than the meat eaters.

Questions raised:

How many people ate fish but no land animals? These might be good converts to full vegetarianism.

More studies on this question:

11. Janelle KC, Barr SI. Nutrient intakes and eating behavior scores of vegetarian and nonvegetarian women. J Am Diet Assoc 1995;95: 180鈥?, 189.
12. White R, Frank E. Health effects and prevalence of vegetarianism. West J Med 1994;160:465鈥?1.
13. Barr SI, Chapman GE. Perceptions and practices of self-defined current vegetarian, former vegetarian

Insights, lessons learnt:

Someone saying they are vegetarian should only update my belief in this fact by 2:1 (probability they are a vegetarian having said that they are, probability vegetarian in population being around 0.9% according to this paper or so, probability of SAYING you are vegetarian around 2.5%)

Highlights:

Data from 13 313 participants (age: 鈮?6 y) in the Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals (CSFII) 1994鈥?996, 1998 were used to compare vegetarian and nonvegetarian dietary patterns. Self-defined vegetarians and nonvegetarians were those who responded positively or negatively, respectively, to the question “Do you consider yourself to be a vegetarian?” The vegetarian and nonvegetarian groups were further characterized as “no meat” or “ate meat” on the basis of a consumption cutoff of 10 g meat/d reported on 2 nonconsecutive 24-h dietary recalls.

The CSFII included the question, “Do you consider (Yourself/ NAME) to be a vegetarian?” Of the 13 313 respondents, 334 of those aged 6 and older answered “yes.”

2.5%

There were 334 individuals 6 y of age and older who identified themselves as vegetarians. Of these, 120 reported no meat, and 214 reported some meat (鈮?10 g meat, fish, or poultry) on either or both recall days.

64% ate meat!

The percentage of self-defined vegetarians who reported no meat consumption was highest in the 20鈥?9 y age group and lowest in the 60鈥?9 y age group, followed by those aged 鈮?70 y.

the energy intake of selfdefined vegetarians who reported no meat was significantly lower than that of vegetarians who ate meat. Self-defined nonvegetarians who reported no meat on recall days showed significantly lower energy intakes in all age categories than nonvegetarians who reported meat consumption

diets of vegetarians and nonvegetarians who consumed no meat on recall days were higher in percent energy as carbohydrate and lower in total fat, saturated fat, and monounsaturated fatty acid

not surprising, easy to eat carb-heavy diet when not eating meat

The dietary patterns of vegetarians and nonvegetarians who excluded meat contributed more vitamin E, vitamin C, thiamine, folate, calcium, magnesium, copper, and dietary fiber than those of nonvegetarians who ate meat. Niacin, vitamin B-12, and zinc concentrations were significantly lower in diets of those who reported no meat, poultry, or fish on recall days.

also makes sense

Vegetarians, whether or not they reported meat, and nonvegetarians who did not report meat had significantly lower intakes of white potatoes and fried potatoes

burger and chips?

On the other hand, self-defined vegetarians who consumed no meat reported significantly higher intake of wine.

ok..dulling the pain? Wonder if this reproduces

in this nationally representative sample, the mean intake of red meat or chicken in selfdefined vegetarians was substantially less than that of nonvegetarians, whereas the mean intake of fish was nearly twice as high (Table 4).

many people eat fish but consider themselves vegetarian, I have encountered this also. Unfortunately, it seems that fish may be able to feel pain just as well as mammals (TODO: look into research on this)
Veg’s also eat less sugar, less beverages (sugar drinks?), more fruit, more vegetables.

The reliance of dietary surveys on self-reported dietary information presents a major limitation of this study and an opportunity for bias in the results. Underreporting of foods consumed is a well-documented bias of self-reported dietary information. This phenomenon is attributable to social desirability bias in food reporting. Self-defined vegetarians may be more apt to report intake of certain food items depending on their perceived “healthfulness” in the diet.