If you’re seeking vegetarian heaven, these are the 15 countries with the highest rates of vegetarianism.
Food has become so much more than a necessity for our survival. Your diet can be defined by health or environment concerns, religion, ethical motivation, culture, etc. Your diet carries a deeper meaning, and more and more people are now adopting the meat-free diet for various reasons. Of course, while some of them simply jump the bandwagon because it’s trendy (such as the gluten-free diet favored by people who don’t even have Celiac Disease). Nevertheless, the number of people following a vegetarian or vegan diet is increasing rapidly.
Vegetarian food and drink products can be found everywhere even in countries where such a diet was considered bizarre just a few years ago. According to Mintel Press Office, the number of vegetarian food and drink products launches doubled in 2009 and 2013. So many people are now refraining from meat and dairy products that October 1st is declared as World Vegetarian Day.
As opposed to countries that eat the most pork per person in the world, today we discuss countries that have the highest percentage of vegetarians. According to The Guardian, young people, in particular, are adopting the meat-free diets and about 12% of young adults in the UK are either vegan or vegetarian.
Eating meat is not very healthy, no argument there, and the truth is that we pay so little attention to what we eat. The vegetarian root is certainly better for our health, but how many people would be willing to give up on their Big Mac’s and other greasy, fatty meals? The good news is that vegetarians nowadays have so many choices when it comes to food. Most food businesses now offer vegetarian dishes, and there are restaurants with completely vegetarian menus as well. But many are confused by the terms vegan and vegetarian as they don’t know what the differences are between the two. But there are many differences between these two styles of eating. While vegetarians don’t eat meat (all animals that once lived), vegans do avoid not only meat but also all animal byproducts such as milk, yogurt, cheese, etc. But we should mention lacto-vegetarians who eat dairy but not eggs, and ovo-vegetarians, who actually eat eggs but not dairy.
Confused yet? Well, that’s not all. There is also flexitarianism, which is a consumer trend towards cutting down on meat on a part-time basis. Consumers who have adopted this flexible attitude are more prone to limit their meat consumption rather avoid it completely.
But where do vegetarians mostly live? We wrote about 11 countries that eat the least meat in the world, but today we’ll focus on countries with the highest rates of vegetarianism. As you already probably know, India is at the very top of the list of countries with the most percentage of vegetarian in the world, but what are the other countries? With all the distinctions and different types of vegetarians, it is not very easy to come up with exact numbers of vegetarian and vegan population in the world. In fact, it was extremely difficult as the data on this matter is either too old, confusing or non-existing. To come up with the list, we considered the total number of all vegetarians, regardless of whether they eat eggs or dairy or neither.
Although diets are mainly plant-based in Africa due to financial reasons, the actual number of those who strictly follow a vegetarian diet is considered to be low on this continent. However, due to lack of data, we cannot state a number and be precise. Therefore, we considered the data already available on the countries listed in our article. As there is not yet any precise data on the vegetarian statistics for 2018 or 2017 for every country, we relied on the available scientific polls from 2015, 2016 or above. World Atlas was helpful in our research, as well as The Guardian. However, we aimed to find more precise data for each country separately, so we relied on websites such as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Probios, and a few others, as you will see later on the list.
If you have wondered how many vegetarians are there in the world, according to Expo, there are 375 million vegetarians worldwide. So, there’s an answer to the question about the non-vegetarian population in world as well. And despite the common belief that vegetarianism is a new trend, this meat-free diet, in fact, originates from ancient times. According to the same article, even Greek and Roman philosophers such as Pythagoras were on a meatless diet. As for the USA, about 4% of the entire population is following a vegetarian diet. The percentage is much higher in some other countries, as you will see.
Let us have a look at the 15 countries with the highest rates of vegetarianism.
Percentage of vegetarians: 7%
With about 7% of its population following a vegetarian diet, Spain ranks 15th on our list of countries with the highest rates of vegetarianism. It seems that vegetarianism is gaining on popularity in Europe lately.
The following three countries on the list of countries with the highest rates of vegetarianism share the 12th place.
Percentage of vegetarians: 8%
Vegetarianism is spreading in Poland as well. Reportedly 8% of Poland’s population is avoiding meat completely and following a vegetarian diet according to a survey carried out in 2017.
Percentage of vegetarians: 8%
Vegetarianism is increasing in popularity in Brazil, and this is mostly due to association with the counterculture movements, religions, philosophies, youth subculture, etc. The number has probably increased even more over the past few years, and generally, it includes all different groups of vegetarianism. You can learn a bit more about vegetarianism in Brazil here. If you are visiting Brazil anytime soon, here is a list of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in this country.
Percentage of vegetarians: 8%
Up next on our list of countries with the highest rates of vegetarianism we have France, where 8% of all population are vegetarians. The percentage of those working on reducing or avoiding the consumption of red meat is also high — almost 41%.
Percentage of vegetarians: 9%
The percentage of vegetarians in Austria is pretty high as 9% of the population is on a vegetarian diet. This style of eating has increased in popularity in this country lately as more people adopt vegetarianism as a lifestyle.
Percentage of vegetarians: 8%-10%
About 10% of all population in Italy is vegetarian, according to the study conducted in 2015. Furthermore, according to the same study, about 48% of the population said that they are actively reducing their consumption of meat or avoiding it.
Percentage of vegetarians: 9%-10%
We re continuing our list of countries with the highest rates of vegetarianism with Germany which is one of the European countries where the rate of vegetarianism is increasing lately. According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 10% of its population is following the meatless diet, as the data from a few years ago suggest. It is possible that the number has increased even more over the past year. Unfortunately, precise data for 2017 cannot be found.
Percentage of vegetarians: 10%
According to the data from 2016, about 10% of the entire population in Belgium follow the vegetarian diet. This ranks Belgium among the top European countries with highest rates of vegetarianism.
7. New Zealand
Percentage of vegetarians:10%
Similarly to Australia, the term vegetarian refers to individuals who do not eat animal meat, but they do consume animal products such as milk and eggs. The number of vegetarians in New Zealand increased significantly over the past decade, and now 10.3% of its entire population are eating an all or almost vegetarian diet.
6. United Kingdom
Percentage of vegetarians: 9%-11%
The United Kingdom ranks 6th on our list of countries with the highest rates of vegetarianism. The country has a pretty high number of vegetarians, and according to the latest data, between 9% and 11% of its population chose to follow the vegetarian diet. What’s more, flexitarianism is also popular in the country so a lot of people are attempting to reduce their meat intake.
Percentage of vegetarians: 11%
According to the data from 2016, slightly more than 11% of Australia’s population is following a vegetarian diet. This percentage includes vegans as well. According to SBS, many new migrants identify themselves as vegetarians especially those coming from India, China, and other Asian countries.
Percentage of vegetarians: 12%
There is a significant plant-based culture in Taiwan mainly thanks to Hokkien, Hakka, and Buddhism vegetarian practices. Taiwan is very dedicated to its vegetarian practices and it is even home to a movement which practices “one day vegetarian every week.” Taipei is even considered to be a vegetarian’s paradise, according to Food Taipei.
Percentage of vegetarians: 13%
With about 13% of its population being vegetarian, Israel is ranked second among countries with the highest number of vegetarians. Even though religion has a lot to do with it, vegetarianism is becoming popular among those who are not religious as well. According to Reuters, even the Israeli army started offering vegan meals and supplying soldiers with leatherless boots and wool-free berets.
Percentage of vegetarians: 11%-14%
According to the data from the year 2017, Switzerland has a very high number of vegetarians. 14% (11% vegetarian, 3% vegan) of the entire population in Switzerland is on a meat-free diet. According to Swiss Veg, every seventh person in Switzerland does not consume products of meat production.
Percentage of vegetarians: 29%-40%
India remains the top country with the highest rate of vegetarianism in the world. About 40% of the entire population are vegetarians. Due to Buddhism and Jainism which emphasize respect for all forms of life, India is one of the countries with least meat consumption in the world. It seems that the number of non-vegetarians in India has decreased by about 4% in recent years. Also, urban areas are more vegetarian than rural regions. Moreover, some of the most vegetarian states in India are Rajasthan, Haryana, and Punjab.
This wraps it up for our list of countries with the highest rates of vegetarianism.