Ever gone vegetarian or vegan for a while, only to go back to eating meat? Don't worry, it happens to a lot of other people too.
The Humane Research Council just published a study analyzing vegetarian and vegan diets of over 11,000 participants. Part of that study included understanding the behavior of people who revert back to omnivorous or carnivorous diets. In their study, they found that 84% of non-meat eaters eventually revert back to consuming animal products.
Granted, the meat-free populations of the United States are a small minority, with only 2% currently being vegetarian or fully plant-based. Apparently, 10% of us also are former vegetarians and vegans. More than half of those who went back to eating meat did so within the first year of abstaining from animals.
Why was this the case? The study suggested that health as the only motivator to vegetarian or vegan wasn't enough, as 58% of people who stated that was the case switched back. Current vegetarians and vegans have multiple motivators, including health, environmental well-being, and animal welfare.
Additionally, relationships could be a factor. A third of all former vegetarians that lived with a meat-eating partner eventually returned to eating meat as well.
The culture and challenges around non-meat diets was also brought up as a reason, with 60% of former vegetarians/vegans hating that they "stuck out" because of their diet, while half found it too difficult to have a purely meat or animal-free lifestyle.
However, this isn't an indicator that people don't want to try vegetarian or vegan lifestyles. Nearly two thirds of Americans have tried plant-based foods already, and a third would likely incorporate plant-based foods into their diet.
So while we don't want to go full vegan or vegetarian, we are open to including some of those foods in our diet.