Meat lobby to vegeterians: You'll be back

The meat industry is touting the results of a new study concluding that most people who adopt vegetarian or vegan diets wind up abandoning them.

Five out of six Americans who try vegetarian diets go back to eating meat, according to the study, commissioned by the Humane Research Council had the Rochester and conducted N.Y.-based market research firm Harris Interactive.

The American Meat Institute (AMI) seized on the study as evidence that most people prefer to live as carnivores.


“This new data shows what we’ve known intuitively,” said Janet Riley, a spokeswoman for AMI. “Meat and poultry are irresistible for their taste and nutrition. A growing body of evidence reveals that balanced diets that include meat and poultry are the best option for good nutrition and for weight control because meat controls hunger.”

Out of 11,000 respondents, the study found only 2 percent were vegetarian or vegan. 

Though the study was paid for by proponents of the vegetarian lifestyle, AMI sought to cast the study, released earlier this week, as a win for the meat industry.

“I’m surprised they actually released it,” she said. “It’s not the way they had hoped it would come out.”

Given the low number of people who abstain from meat, the study said, it’s “no surprise vegetarians/vegans today have difficulty maintaining a diet that positions them in the margins of society.”

The study recommends increasing the number of vegetarians by targeting certain demographics, teaching people how to better cope with limited food options and diversifying the reasons why people should stop eating meat.