Most folks would classify an upward trend in the number of people embracing vegetarianism as a negative development. But here’s a different, more upbeat, way to view those data.
One in ten people in Sweden is a now vegetarian or vegan, a new survey revealed.
And that’s great news.
I’ll explain, but first the particulars of the survey. According the study commissioned by Animal Rights Sweden (Djurens Rätt), there has been a 4 percent increase in the number of Swedes adopting a meat-free lifestyle over the past five years. The largest percentage of vegies and vegans live in the Stockholm metro area and the County of Skåne (or Scania in English), the country’s southernmost district due east of Denmark and directly across the Baltic Sea from Germany.
In other words, Sweden’s equivalent of Los Angeles and San Diego County.
In the telephone poll of 1,000 respondents, 6 percent of respondents described themselves as vegetarians, while 4 percent claimed to be vegans. The highest prevalence was seen among the 15 to 34 year-old demographic in which 17 percent of respondents described themselves as vegetarian or vegan. So far, I would suggest that the data are no different from what you’d get if you were to conduct a similar survey in Southern California, especially one commissioned by an animal rights group.
And the overall percentages mirror closely similar surveys done in the United States.
Gabriela Turneborg, consumer director at Animal Rights Sweden, said in a statement that, “It’s pleasing that the figures have increased over the last five years, but I would have been surprised if they hadn’t.”
Turneborg noted a widespread increase in people adopting so-called “meat-free diets,” with 37 percent of non-vegetarian respondents saying their interest in purchasing vegetarian foods had increased over the past year (versus 26 percent five years ago).
Now here’s an interesting piece of data: Of those who identified themselves as vegetarian or vegan, 21 percent said their decision was strongly influenced by their concern for animal welfare, while 28 percent said this was partly a reason for adopting a meat-free diet; 15 percent said it did not affect their choice at all. So only a minority adopted a veggie diet because of concern for animal welfare — and only one in five self-described vegetarians said they were “strongly influenced” by concern for livestock.
That’s the exact opposite of what vegan advocates always try to claim, but there’s no disputing what the survey says. If you can’t get a majority of vegetarians — in Sweden, no less — to acknowledge that animal welfare is the reason they gave up meat, I believe the conclusion is self-evident: People go veggie for health reasons, not necessarily because they’re motivated by (alleged) animal abuse.