Kids Going Vegetarian Route

Jul 10, 2002
George Anderson

Some 10 million Americans today consider themselves to be practicing vegetarians, according to a Time magazine poll of 10,000 adults. An additional 20 million have flirted with vegetarianism sometime in the past. More Americans, particularly young Americans, have started engaging in the practice. Although, in a survey of 11,000 individuals, 37 percent of those who responded “Yes, I am a vegetarian,” also reported that in the previous 24 hours they had eaten red meat; and 60 percent had eaten meat, poultry or seafood.

To impressionable young minds, vegetarianism may seem both more sensible and ethical than the carnivorous alternative. An Arizona State University study reported that, sight unseen, “salad eaters were rated more moral, virtuous and considerate than steak eaters” by younger consumers.

“A century ago, a high-meat diet was thought to be health-favorable,” says Paul Rozin of the University of Pennsylvania. “Kids today are the first generation to live in a culture where vegetarianism is common, where it is publicly promoted on health and ecological grounds.” And kids, as any parent can attest, spur the consumer economy. This explains in part the burgeoning sales of veggie burgers in supermarkets and fast-food chains.

Children, who are signing on to vegetarianism much faster than adults, may be educating their parents. Vegetarian food sales are savoring double-digit growth. Top restaurants have added more meatless dishes. Trendy “living foods” or “raw” restaurants are popping up, like Roxanne’s in Larkspur, Calif., where no meat, fish, poultry or dairy items are served.

Moderator Comment: What impact will veganism and pseudo-vegetarianism have on retail operations in the years to come?

With the recent debate over what is the ideal diet, this Time report is, well, timely. We found it very interesting that nearly one in four kids interviewed by Teenage Research Unlimited believed that being a vegetarian was cool. Personally speaking, our kids eat tofu and not only like it, they request it to be prepared for dinner. Of course, they also like cheeseburgers (anti-biotic and hormone free) and ask for them. [George Anderson – Moderator]

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