April 19th, 2008 — 2:59pm

As the communications director of Vegetarian Times (along with Yoga Journal and Backpacker), I am responsible for writing all press releases. We had recently commissioned a Harris Study on how many vegetarians there are in the U.S. adult population — we called it the “Vegetarianism in America” study.

According to the study, “3.2 percent of U.S. adults, or 7.3 million people, follow a vegetarian-based diet. Approximately 0.5 percent, or 1 million, of those are vegans, who consume no animal products at all. In addition, 10 percent of U.S., adults, or 22.8 million people, say they largely follow a vegetarian-inclined diet.”

On Slashfood, there’s a discussion of the term “vegetarian inclined.” One blog said, “Let’s be clear – there’s already a word for someone who is vegetarian inclined. It’s called an omnivore.” Another post said “It’s pretty simple and obvious to me, but then I identify as “vegetarian-inclined”… It just means eating very little meat in comparison to the average person. What’s silly or confusing about that?”

The fact is, there’s a wide swath of people who eat very little meat. Not “no” meat, but “almost” no meat. This swath equals 22.8 million people – an important demographic for those in the wellness business, as Vegetarian Times is. It would have been far more confusing, and downright silly even, to use the term “semi-vegetarian.” Or “flexitarian” — how many people have ever heard that term?

“Vegetarian-inclined” seems simpler and clearer to me.

Category: Uncategorized 3 comments »

3 Responses to “Vegetarian-Inclined”

  1. Akasha

    Thank you for posting this. I agree, “vegetarian-inclined” is much clearer than “flexitarian,” “pisco-vegetarian” (how about that one?) and whatever other diet-related terms may be out there.

    Often I wonder how many people have tried, and failed, at vegetarianism, but eat very little meat. Before practicing yoga, I used to eat meat every day (frequently more than once a day). Now I’m down to about once a week. I’ve tried to eliminate meat entirely, but when I go for more than about a week and a half, I have no energy, become forgetful, can’t hold balance asanas that are usually easy fo rme, and seem to develop a severe case of ADD.

    Although I agree with much of the philosophy behind vegetarianism, I am very tired of being regarded by some (but by no means all) of the vegans and vegetarians as some type of carnivorous monster. Yes, I am an omnivore, but “vegetarian-inclined” more accurately reflects the changes I have made.

    Yes, we who are “vegetarian-inclined” are an important demographic, one that doesn’t fit anywhere. Can’t qualify as vegetarian, but aren’t ready or willing to have meat with most meals, either.

  2. dayna

    I have great respect for vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores. What I feel is most important is that one comes to one’s decisions thoughtfully; eat with care, and that for those who do eat meat, support only humanely raised and killed animals. One diet does not fit all, and I personally don’t feel comfortable having others tell me what to eat, and vice versa.

    As for vegetarian inclined, it comprises many, many people, and I see no issue with calling this group by this name. I have a yoga teacher who eats meat maybe once or twice a year. Is he a vegetarian? No, he eats meat. But almost none. So, I think it’s pretty accurate to say he is vegetarian inclined

  3. Akasha

    Dayna, thank you for replying to my comment! It’s wonderful that you are opening a discussion through your Yoga Journal article on what is such a controversial topic in the yoga community. There is so much judgmet involved in our food choices, and it doesn’t need to be that way. Like you, I have respect for all three groups. I only eat organic, free range animals, and I am so tired of being judged because my system doesn’t do well on a purely vegetarian diet.

    I’m currently in a yoga teacher training program that emphasizes vegetarianism. While the teacher says that we can be yogis and eat meat, although she personally believes that anyone can be a vegetarian, so often I feel judged and like a second-class yogini because of my choices.

    Your yoga teacher who eats meat once or twice a year is interesting. Sometimes I wonder what a strict vegan would do if, for example, s/he had a 92 year old grandmother who cooked what would probably be her last Thanksgiving turkey, and would feel very hurt if a beloved grandchild refused her cooking. If the choice is hurt Grandma’s feelings and remain true to deeply held principles, or eat a few bites of the turkey, which is more in keeping with ahimsa? I know what my answer would be, but the point is, these choices aren’t easy and I’m not convinced that there are any “right” or “wrong” answers, just what is best for an individual in a particular situation.

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