Most Vegetarians Lapse After Only a Year

The vast majority of vegetarians return to eating meat

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You're not fooling anyone, vegan sausage. Harald Walker/Westend61/Corbis

There are a lot of reasons people choose vegan or vegetarian lifestyles, including religion, taste preferences, health issues or concerns about animal ethics or environmental sustainability, among others. But whatever the reason, most vegetarians don't last. In the United States, most meat-abstainers lapse within a year, according to a new report put out by the the Humane Research Council, an animal advocacy organization. 

In a survey of around 11,000 Americans, the organization found that 84 percent of vegetarians and vegans return to eating meat, says the Huffington Post. Most lapse within a year, while nearly a third don't last more than three months.

The study falls in line with previous research. According to Skeptoid, “ex-vegetarians outnumber current vegetarians by a ratio of three to one.”

So why do so many people fall off the bandwagon? According to the new survey, says HuffPo, the researchers “found that a majority of them lacked social support, vegetarian-themed group activities and didn't like sticking out from their friends... Other reasons for giving up: having trouble with animal-based cravings and the difficulty of doing anything cold turkey, so to speak.”

Meat is tasty, but meat is also nutritious. Eating a balanced vegetarian diet is certainly possible, but it takes deliberate decision making to compensate for the nutrients typically delivered by meat. According to a separate survey, says Skeptoid, “[a] full thirty-five percent of participants indicated that declining health was the main reason they reverted back to eating flesh.”

That being said, there's a growing trend in veganism and vegetarianism in the U.S. that's helping with some of the barriers to access to specialty foods and restaurants.

Even if most vegetarians lapse, they don't often lapse all the way back to "you kill 'em, we grill 'em" carnivores, says Time. Many find the middle ground, choosing to be “sometimes vegetarians” that focus on eating sustainably and ethically raised animals. 

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