by Kundan

Last Updated: Oct 18, 2023


Vegetarianism refers to any diet which excludes meat consumption as well as possibly other animal products such as eggs. Most commonly, vegetarianism takes on three main forms. Lacto-ovo vegetarians avoid meat and poultry while including dairy and eggs in their diet; lacto vegetarians forgo egg consumption but still include dairy; while ovo vegetarians don’t include either dairy nor eggs in their lifestyle. Vegans practice strict vegetarianism by abstaining from all animal products such as meat, dairy products, eggs and honey; pescatarians opt for seafood while foregoing other forms of meat; while flexitarians adhere primarily to this lifestyle but occasionally indulge in meat or fish consumption.

Vegetarianism may be chosen due to ethical concerns regarding animal welfare and sustainability issues as well as for health reasons. Vegetarian diets may include plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts that provide essential nutrition while possibly decreasing health conditions like heart disease or cancer. But vegetarians must plan their diet carefully in order to ensure they receive all necessary vitamin B12, iron and protein which may otherwise come exclusively from animal products.

The Most Common Types of Vegetarian Diets

  • Lacto-ovo vegetarianism: This type of diet is the most prevalent vegetarian lifestyle choice and eliminates meat from one’s diet while permitting dairy and egg products.
  • Lacto-vegetarian Diet: This diet resembles lacto-ovo vegetarianism but excludes eggs.
  • Ovo-vegetarianism: Similar to lacto-ovo vegetarianism, except without dairy products included.
  • Vegan: Adherence to this restrictive form of vegetarianism means forgoing all animal products such as meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, eggs and honey.

Other types of vegetarian diets:

  • Pescatarian Diet: This diet forgoes meat and poultry consumption while still permitting fish and seafood consumption.
  • Flexitarian Diet: This type of diet emphasizes plant-based foods while still permitting occasional consumption of meat or animal products.
  • Raw vegan: The raw vegan diet consists of only raw or unprocessed plant foods and beverages, such as vegetables.

History of Vegetarianism

Though vegetarianism has its origins in ancient history, it rose in prominence in the 19th and 20th centuries as a result of social movements and growing awareness of health, environmental, and ethical concerns regarding meat consumption.

Early advocates of vegetarianism include ancient Greek philosophers such as Plato and the Roman poet Ovid who advocated for a plant-based diet. In India, the practice of non-violence and concept of ahimsa caused many Hindus, Jains and Buddhists to adopt vegetarianism around 500 BCE.

In 1847, the Vegetarian Society was formed in the United Kingdom to promote non-meat eating. The advent of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in 1863 widely promoted vegetarianism on religious grounds. In the 1880s, vegetarian restaurants and health food stores began to emerge in Greater London and New York City due to the influence of vegetarian societies.

In 1944, vegetarianism gained greater attention with the publication of the book Veganism by Donald Watson, who coined the term “vegan”. From the 1960s onwards, an increasing environmental movement brought awareness to the environmental damage of meat production. Famous proponents like Paul McCartney and John Lennon further popularized vegetarianism.

Since the turn of the 21st century, growing awareness of health risks associated with meat consumption has driven more people towards vegetarian and plant-based diets. The emergence of social media and films like Food, Inc. have also given visibility to the vegetarian movement.

Here are some of the main reasons people choose to go vegetarian

Health – Reducing meat intake and increasing plant foods can help prevent chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Vegetarians tend to have lower BMI and cholesterol levels. Plant-based diets are linked to increased longevity.

Environment – Animal agriculture accounts for nearly 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. It also uses massive amounts of land, water and other resources. Adopting a vegetarian diet dramatically reduces one’s environmental footprint.

Ethics – Many object to the suffering and death endured by animals raised for food in factory farm settings. Vegetarians view avoiding meat as a moral obligation to refrain from harming sentient creatures.

Food security – Meat production is highly inefficient, using resources that could instead feed more people directly. With nearly 1 billion undernourished people, adopting plant-based diets can allow the global food supply to be distributed more equitably.

Religion – Various religious faiths have promoted vegetarianism including Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Seventh Day Adventism. Followers avoid meat because of ideals like ahimsa (non-violence) or as an expression of stewardship over God’s creation.

That covers some of the major motivations people have for eliminating meat from their diets and pursuing vegetarian or vegan lifestyles. The choice stems from an array of health, humanitarian, and ecological considerations.

Editor’s Choice

  • India boasts the highest vegetarian population adherence rate at 39.5% of their population following this diet.
  • Globally, an estimated 1.5 billion individuals practice vegetarianism – 22% of global population has chosen this lifestyle option.
  • Around 22% of global populations choose a vegetarian lifestyle.
  • Vegetarians experience up to 12% lower cancer rates.
  • Global transition towards vegetarianism could save an estimated annual saving of approximately one trillion.
  • Opting for a plant-based diet has been shown to lower risk of heart disease by 40%.
  • Vegetarians have an approximately 50% lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes than nonvegetarians.
  • Market estimates place plant-based meat substitutes at $1.4 billion.
  • Nigeria has experienced an unprecedented spike in vegetarianism; currently its vegetarian population stands at over 1.4 million people.
  • An estimated 5-6% of American’s are now vegetarians or follow a plant-based diet.
  • Germany boasts over 7-and-a-half million vegetarians, an increase since 2014.
  • In the UK, approximately 6% of its population practices vegetarianism with over three and one half million individuals adhering to this lifestyle choice.
  • Roughly five percent (or 9.7 million people) follow a vegetarian diet in America, accounting for just under five million total followers.
  • Women make up 6% of the US vegetarian demographic and are twice as likely as men to identify as vegetarian.
  • About 32% of US residents identify themselves as mostly vegetarian, and this number is projected to continue rising.
  • 22% of millennials have at some point tried a vegetarian diet.
(Source :

Key Stats:

  • Globally, an impressive 700,000 individuals registered to celebrate Veganuary 2023 by adopting a plant-based diet throughout January.

meat substitutes for health reasons

  • In 2021, sales for plant-based food market in the US reached $7.4 billion.
  • Europe boasts nearly 3.2% vegans.
  • India boasts one of the highest vegetarian populations worldwide, with 31-42% of citizens adhering to vegetarianism.
  • Nearly 8 million adults in the US don’t consume meat regularly.
  • Transitioning to a vegetarian diet could reduce global agricultural land usage by 75%.
  • By 2028, it’s anticipated that the global vegan and vegetarian market will reach $10.8 billion.

(Source : Worldanimalfoundation)

Globally Vegetarians Top Countries

Global estimates put the current vegetarian population at about 500 million individuals; and this number is projected to continue growing as more individuals decide to adopt plant-based diets due to ethical, environmental or other considerations.


Note:  that these statistics should only be seen as estimates; actual numbers could differ based on your source and definitions of “vegetarian.” In certain countries, vegetarianism still includes eating seafood such as fish.

Here are a few additional statistics regarding vegetarianism:

  • India boasts the highest proportion of vegetarians with about 20% adhering to such an eating lifestyle.
  • Over the past ten years, vegetarianism in the US has experienced exponential growth – over 350% !
  • Since 2005, veganism in the UK has more than doubled.
  • China is actively encouraging a diet composed of more plant-based ingredients to lessen environmental damage.

Vegetarianism has gained increasing traction worldwide. People choose a vegetarian lifestyle for various reasons – ethical concerns, health benefits and environmental impacts among them – leading to greater numbers adopting it worldwide.

Key Demographic Characteristics and Percentages Related to Vegetarians


  • Young adults between 25-40 are more likely than other generations to choose vegetarianism as an eating lifestyle choice.
  • 22% of millennials in the United States identify as vegetarian or vegan, compared with 13% for Gen X and 10% for baby boomers.

by Age


  • Women are more likely to adopt vegetarianism than their male counterparts.
  • 37% of millennials in the US claim that eating vegetarian-based food is healthier for them.


  • People of color are more likely to embrace vegetarianism than white individuals.
  • 31% of nonwhite Americans and 19% of whites consumed less meat consumption in 2017.


  • People with higher levels of education tend to be more inclined to adopt vegetarianism as lifestyle choice.
  • 25% of college-educated Americans identify as vegetarian or vegan compared to 17% among those without college degrees.


  • People with higher incomes tend to be more inclined towards vegetarianism.
  • 30-30% of Americans with incomes over $100,000 identify as vegetarian or vegan compared to 18-20% who earn under 50k annually.


  • Vegetarians tend to reside more commonly in urban than in rural settings.
  • Urban Americans are two times as likely as rural ones to identify as vegetarians or vegans, at 24% and 13%, respectively.

Not to be taken literally, these general trends should only be used as guidance; there may be many exceptions and variations depending on factors like age, gender, ethnicity, education level, income or location.

Reasons that lead people to adopt vegetarianism in 2023

  • Health: Vegetarians tend to experience lower rates of cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer than meat eaters do.
  • Ethics: Many vegetarians choose this lifestyle due to concerns over animal cruelty in factory farms.
  • Environment: Animal agriculture has long been blamed as one of the main contributors to climate change and other environmental concerns.
  • Personal Preferences: Some individuals simply enjoy the taste of plant-based foods more.

Human Research Council conducted a 2014 survey and discovered the following reasons for becoming vegetarians:

  • Health – 69%
  • Animal Protection – 68%
  • Negative feelings towards meat and animal products – 64%
  • Environmental Concern – 59%
  • Taste preferences – 52%
  • Social justice – 29%.
  • Religious or spiritual convictions- 22%.
  • Cost – 21%

(Source : bard AI)

Recent Developments 

  • 2023: Beyond Meat unveils their plant-based chicken nugget product.
  • 2023: Impossible Foods announces plans to increase production capacity due to increasing demand for its plant-based meat alternatives.
  • 2022: Tyson Foods acquires Raised & Rooted, an innovative plant-based meat producer.
  • 2022: Nestle launches its Garden Gourmet plant-based burger product under their Garden Gourmet brand.
  • 2021: Danone acquires WhiteWave Foods, an eco-food producer.
  • 2021: Oatly, a plant-based milk company, goes public.

In Conclusion

vegetarianism is on the rise worldwide, with the number of non-meat eaters growing steadily each year. While India has the largest absolute vegetarian population, parts of Western Europe and Israel have remarkably high per capita vegetarian rates. This shift is being driven by health concerns, increased moral objections to eating animals, and growing awareness of industrial agriculture’s environmental impact. Although vegetarians remain a minority in most countries, they are an influential consumer segment fueling demand for plant-based alternatives and shaping options in the foodservice industry. As concerns over climate change, food sustainability and animal welfare continue mounting, global rates of vegetarianism are expected to rise even further in the coming decades. Companies have taken notice, expanding the variety and quality of vegetarian offerings to meet this growing demographic’s tastes and needs.

What are the main types of vegetarian diets and why might one become vegetarian?
Vegetarianism is an approach to eating that restricts consumption of meat products and animal byproducts, including eggs. There are various kinds of vegetarian diets; lacto-ovo vegetarianism (excluding meat but including dairy and eggs), lacto-vegetarianism (excludes all meat but including eggs and dairy products), lacto-vegetarianism (excludes eggs but includes dairy) ovo vegetarianism (excludes both dairy products as well as eggs), vegan (excludes all animal products) pescatarian (excluding meat but including seafood consumption) or flexitarianism (primarily plant-based with occasional meat or fish consumption).
Why are people opting to become vegetarians?
People become vegetarian for various reasons, including animal welfare concerns, environmental benefits and ethical or religious convictions.
What is the history and development of vegetarianism over time?
Vegetarianism dates back centuries, with historical figures like Plato advocating plant-based diets. But modern vegetarianism came into its own during social movements in 19th and 20th century America as people became aware of health, environmental and ethical considerations surrounding meat consumption.
Can you share some key statistics and global trends pertaining to vegetarianism and veganism?
Globally, around 22% of the population practices vegetarianism with India leading the pack with about 20% being vegetarians. Vegetarianism continues to gain ground due to health, ethical, and environmental considerations influencing lifestyle decisions worldwide.
Which demographic characteristics distinguish vegetarians, such as age, gender, ethnicity, education level and income level?
Young adults between 25-40 are most likely to adopt vegetarianism; women are more likely to do so than men; people of color tend to embrace it more readily than white individuals; higher education levels and income levels often make vegetarianism easier to accept.
What are the primary motivations behind people turning vegetarian in 2023?
Reasons for becoming vegetarian often include health benefits, concerns over animal cruelty in factory farming operations, environmental impact or personal taste preferences.
What impact has vegetarianism had on health, ethics and environmental sustainability?
Vegetarianism has been associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Vegetarianism may also offer ethical reasons to respond to animal welfare concerns as well as reduced environmental impact as animal agriculture is one of the largest contributors to climate change.
What have been some recent developments or notable events related to vegetarianism (including plant-based meat alternatives)?
Recent advances include Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods' introduction of plant-based meat alternatives as well as acquisitions and expansions within the plant-based food sector.
Can you share insight into how vegetarianism impacts global food sustainability and animal welfare?
Vegetarianism plays an integral part in food sustainability by lowering its environmental footprint of meat production and aligning with animal welfare goals by decreasing demand for factory farming practices.
How are companies and the food industry responding to rising consumer interest in vegetarian and plant-based products, and what's ahead for vegetarianism worldwide?
ompanies are expanding their selections of vegetarian and plant-based products in response to rising consumer interest in this area, driven by concerns such as climate change, sustainability and animal welfare issues. It appears as though vegetarianism will gain momentum as climate change mitigation strategies intensify as do concerns over animal rights issues and animal welfare concerns.


by Kundan

Kundan Goyal possesses a wealth of experience in Digital Marketing, offering valuable insights to businesses of all sizes. He actively contributes to industry-specific PR, news outlets, and forums, shaping discussions and driving forward-thinking strategies. Outside of work, HE enjoys carrom and has a deep passion for news editing and research. His strength lies in helping companies make informed, strategic decisions and predicting future trends. With his dedication and innovative approach, he is a versatile professional who brings a unique blend of skills and expertise to the ever-evolving digital landscape, enabling businesses to thrive in this dynamic environment.