The other morning, Jane and I were guessing how many vegans there are. It’s hard to tell, especially when you live in Los Angeles; the vegan demographics here are certainly not representative of the entire USA.
It’s been a long time since I’ve written about vegan demographics. Do we care? Should we care? Probably not, but since Jane and I are coming up on ten years as vegans in a few months, I figured now was a good time to look at the vegan demographic statistics. As you might suspect, it’s not easy to determine how many vegans there are. It’s not like you enter that information on your census report. There are all sorts of polls on vegetarians and vegans. I like getting my data from faunalytics.org. Most, but not all of the following information is from their site. With that being said, there has been a definite rise in veganism over the past decade, to the point where products such as vegan meal kits and vegan dog food exist!
In this article, we are going to discuss the vegan population, how many vegans are in the USA, as well as how many vegans are in the world.
We are the one (half) percent
So how many vegans are there in the USA? Based on a sampling of 11,000 adults, aged 17 and over, only two percent of Americans are vegetarian. Only one-in-four vegetarians — or 0.5% of the USA adult population — is vegan. Only half of one percent of the USA population — or 1.62 million of us — is vegan.
(Is 11,000 a reasonable sampling? Perhaps you are think that this sampling is too small and is therefore skewing the results. I suspect otherwise. This sampling is, by far, the largest such sampling that I’ve found. Most other such polls are usually only looking at about 2,000 people.)
There are many former vegans than there are current vegans; there are more than five times as many former vegetarians/vegans than there are current vegetarians/vegans. Said differently, 84% of vegetarians/vegans abandon their diet. Extrapolated out, that means that there are 8 million lapsed vegans as opposed to the 1.6 million current vegans.
Only about one-in-eight Americans has ever considered themselves vegetarian/vegan. Roughly 88 percent of Americans have always considered themselves omnivorous/carnivorous.
So who are the 1.6 million vegans? You might be surprised to find that the average age of a vegan today is 42. I suspect that many people think that most vegans are in their 20’s and 30’s. According to this research, those young adults only account for about half of all vegans.
What is less surprising is that 74% — almost three-in-four vegans — are female. Most vegans are left-leaning politically and are not religious.
So perhaps it comes as no surprise that the typical vegan is female, left-leaning, and non-religious. Let’s look at longevity. As we have seen, there are many more former vegetarians/vegans than people who currently eat this way. The survey suggests that for many, it’s fleeting. Only about one-third (34%) maintained the diet for three months or less, and more than half (53%) of former vegetarians/vegans adhered to the diet for less than one year. So it appears that people try this lifestyle on for size and for one reason or another, half of them go back to their normal, traditional diet after a year or less.
If you are thinking that the current vegetarians/vegans might return to their former omni-eating ways, only 12% of the current vegetarians/vegans in the survey have been eating this way for less than a year. Therefore, 88% of those who claim to be vegetarian/vegan have been so for over a year, presumably many have been eating this way for several years.
How many vegans are in the world?
Calculating the amount of vegans in the world has never been an easy task. Many people combine vegans, vegetarians, and plant-based diets into the same category – even though there is a major difference. Considering that the most progressive countries in the world are reporting a 2-8% vegan population, we can assume that the worldwide number is considerably below 1%.
For example, even though there has been a large surge in vegan interest in South Africa, 99.99% of Africa’s population aren’t vegans. Considering that there are 1.2 billion people living in Africa, and 7.83 billion people living worldwide, it’s easy to understand why the vegan population worldwide is closer to 0.1%.
So by our calculations, there are about 75,300,000 vegans in the world.
How many vegans in the USA? (Updated 2023)
When we first shared the numbers on the number of vegans in the USA, it was 2016. Studies from 2016 pointed out that only 0.5% of the USA population were vegan. A recent study points towards a drastic increase in the number of vegan – 6%!
There are 327 million people in the USA, which means that there are about 19,632,000 vegans in the USA.
It’s worth noting that the 6% figure is self-reported, which can be a flawed measurement. One person’s idea or strictness of a “vegan lifestyle” can differ from the next.
If the US has a 6% vegan population, how many vegetarians are there? 8% of the US population is vegeterian.
A 2018 study by Gallup pointed towards a 8% vegetarian population, but what’s even more interesting is that the percentage of vegetarians has barely gone up over the past decade. There has been a definite percent rise in vegans, but not so much with vegetarians. This may point toward people going directly from a meat-eating diet to a vegan diet, without using a vegetarian diet as a transition step.
While this might come as a surprise to some, there are more vegans in the lower end of the income range. The average American earns $54,000. The largest concentration of vegans is in the sub $50,000 income range.
This, according to data gathered by VRG as reported by the Huffington Post.
Why the discrepancy? It’s probably age-related; there are more vegans in their 20’s and 30’s than there are in their 50’s and older. Older adults are more likely to have higher incomes than younger adults.
The Huffington Post article suggests that younger people are more likely to be vegan and tend to have lower incomes than older people:
Six percent of survey respondents between 18 and 34 were vegetarians compared to only two percent who were over 55. Young people are also more likely to make less money than older adults as more of them are students or are starting their careers.
(The information reported above from Faunalytics indicated that the average age was 42. This survey from VRG suggests that there are far fewer vegans in their 50’s than in their 20’s. The VRG survey which sampled 2,000 adults also found a closer ratio of vegans based on gender than the Faunalytics survey of 11,000 found. The VRG survey suggests that women make up only 55% of vegans. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that Faunalytics determination that women account for 74% of vegans seems more accurate to me.)
Why are you vegan?
Participants in the study were asked about their motivations for eating a vegetarian/vegan diet. A great many people indicated that they are vegan for health, taste, and humanitarian reasons.
The same questions were asked of former vegetarians/vegans. There is a statistically significant association between nearly all of the motivations tested and whether an individual is a current or former vegetarian/ vegan, with the exception of cost, social influence, and want to follow a food trend.
Most Vegan-Friendly Cities in America
This is a quick list, but you can see our full list of the most vegan friendly cities.
- Portland, Oregon
- Los Angeles, California
- New York City, New York
- Detroit, Michigan
- Nashville, Tennessee
- San Diego, California
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Austin, Texas
- Seattle, Washington
- Richmond, Virginia
There are many websites that have their own way of determining which cities are most vegan-friendly. Having never been to Detroit or Richmond, I have to say that those locations come as a surprise to me. Several of the other large cities appear on everyone’s list.
Vegan Demographics: Largest Concentration of Vegans (by country)
The following two tables are derived from data gathered by Wikipedia
- United States
- United Kingdom
These are the only ten countries that they have listed for vegans. It comes as a surprise to me that there are so many vegans in Japan. Maybe it’s just the volume of people that skews this data somewhat. According to this table, there more than 3 million of the 127 million residents of Japan are vegans.
|Gender:||Vegans||UK Vegans||USA Vegans|
|Age:||Vegans||UK Vegans||USA Vegans|
Vegans are most likely to be females under the age of 35.
When did you become vegan?
78% of vegans went vegan between the ages of 16 and 34, with 52% between the ages of 16 and 24. The average (mean) age for turning vegan is 24.1, although the most frequent ages are 19, 20 and 21. US vegans generally turned vegan younger (mean age 22.4) than UK vegans (mean age 24.9).
|Vegans||UK Vegans||USA Vegans|
Vegan Demographics: Largest Percentage of Vegans (by country)
*These numbers are from 2014
As you can see, Israel has the largest concentration of vegans, with five percent of the population indicated to be vegan. The USA only ranks fifth on this list.
Please note that the data from Wikipedia suggests that 1.5% of the USA population is vegan, whereas the data from Faunalytics indicates that only 0.5% of the USA population is vegan; just one-third as many.
Before we let you go, there are a few resources on VeganBits that we recommend looking at:
Your math is bad!! One half percent of the US population (325 million) is 1.62 million, not 5 million, as you stated, (you’re off by a factor of 3).
You are correct. Thanks for catching that. It’s been adjusted.
hello from Japan.
Wikipedia is referring to a poll that was conducted only for 3 days(2014/12/17?2014/12/19) online with only 1,188 valid responses. Since very few restaurants have vegan options and few people know what ‘vegan’ is, I assume there are fewer vegans in our country.
Im not a mathematician but i feel like there are a lot more vegetarian and vegans. I hear about it and see it all the time on the internet, i see it everywhere. Therefore i just feel like the group must be higher.
I think your numbers are way off on all accounts. Vegan and vegetarian menu items are being added rapidly at most restaurants. Japan and rural China we mostly vegetarian and vegan as far back as time. It is only since the SAD Standard American Diet of fast food was introduced that they began eating more meat and dairy and getting sicker and fatter.
See riseofthevegan.com. Vegans were 1% in 2014 and now are 6%. It is rising fast as the word is getting out that meat and dairy kill us and the planet, thanks to movies like What the Health and Cowspiracy.
It’s quite difficult to get an accurate assessment as to how many vegans there actually are. Regardless, you, it does seem as though the number of people who indicate that they support a vegan lifestyle is increasing.
Dude fix your numbers, you’re wrong about everything. Veganism has increased 600% since 2014 and will continue to increase exponentially.
I don’t believe this. I think there are much more vegans around now. There is no date in your article when the survey was done. I believe its old info.
I have to ding you on both vocabulary and math, and maybe just reading comprehension. Greatest concentration means greatest percentage. You list US as having greatest concentration of vegans, while you probably mean greatest number of vegans. That being said. You are wrong on all counts because you totally left India off your list which has not only the greatest number of vegans, but also the greatest percentage, thus concentration, of vegans.
Are there demographics as what percentage of each occupation is vegan? IE % of doctors, % of farmers, % of auto mechanics etc
I’m sorry, but I can tell you that part of this article is completely off with regards to vegan populations around the world. Japan is NOWHERE near being the country with the second highest population of vegans. I’ve been living in Tokyo for nearly 3 years, and as a vegan, I can tell that vegans are almost as common here as penguins are in the Amazon.
When I tell Japanese people that I do not eat animal products I get looks of absolute bewilderment, as if I were an extraterrestrial. It is EXTREMELY difficult to find a Japanese dish here that is not loaded with meat and/or fish products, and almost all of the tiny percentage of vegans/vegetarians I’ve met here were either hippies either from North America or Europe.
I have no idea where the numbers in this article come from.
I am confused. You said the average vegetarian age is 42 and 20s, 30s only counts less than 50%. But later you said the income discrepancy is because there are more 20s, 30s to lower the average. They seem to contradict each other.
Although some of the numbers may seem skewed, they are still accurate to the surveys they originated from. There are multiple surveys used to create this article, with different sample sizes and different goals. For example, a sample size of 11,000 will be more accurate than a sample size of 2,000, as stated in the article. Additionally, I would encourage all of you to look specifically at the surveys from which the information was pulled if you are still critical, and above all, I implore you to be decent in the way you criticize any article, including this one. Don’t attack the author, state the facts. Don’t assume something is wrong just because you heard otherwise. Read, assess, fact check. And above all be considerate of other people’s stances on an issue and recognize that life is to short to continually argue over what percentage of vegans lived in Sweden in 2014.
The poll we need is what kind of activism made you go vegan. ETHICAL vegan.
I have been vegan for 7 years I discovered veganism on line after my open heart surgery just searching for a better way DR ESSI book how to prevent and reverse heart disease and my heart doc said there is no way to reverse this out of your body it comes with old age well BS they are here to keep us dragging along not preventing heart diease I just built a house a ranch house 1750 square feet it took me 9 months I am retired so I worked on it 7 days a week I have built a few in my life only part time I had my own Printing bus I am 77 years old and I joined a gym to keep in shape all the trainers are MEAT EATERS I told them about Netflix the game changer movie and they said its just propaganda all my blood numbers are great my reg doc aways ask me what are you doing he is also a meat eater but I think I might be changing his mind slowly THKS JIM
There is a mistake in the total worldwide population size of vegans. 0.1% of the total world population is 7,530,000 and not 75,300,000 (10 times less).
True number of vegans is less than 2%. https://sentientmedia.org/how-many-vegans-are-there-in-the-u-s/
Also, the income statistics only account for 12% of the vegan population, you definitely have some error there.
Is the vegetarian population a superset of the vegan population?
What about these gems:
Jay-Z and what’s-her-name are promoting veganism but they’re only vegan on weekends, do they count as vegans? How about Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appeared on the game changers movie but gives away turkeys at thanksgiving and his favorite meal is steaks and eats a protein shake that includes a whole egg, is he counted as a vegan?
Canada is near the top of the list of vegan countries according to this recent survey – https://vegfaqs.com/number-vegans-in-canada-survey/
What was the methodology used to get the number of Vegans in the world?
Its good to see vegans increasing in the USA. Hopefully, the world will catch on.
I guess this is the most accurate explanation I’ve found to the total number of vegans in the world – https://wtvox.com/sustainable-living/2019-the-world-of-vegan-but-how-many-vegans-are-in-the-world/
I think we should also research why people go back to eating meat after becoming vegetarian/vegan. With this information, maybe we could make improvements on information and vegan food processing to encourage people to remain on the plant path
I’ve been vegan since 6
OMG, someone writes an article (did you?) and it is woefully criticized in the worst ways. How do you expect to attract meat-eaters to veganism with this shameful display of backbiting and general rudeness toward a PERSON. Last time are I checked, we are all fallible. How about some respect?
I live in Germany and have been vegetarian with strong vegan tendencies for over 25 years. There are tons of options here and I would add Berlin as one the most vegan friendly cities I know of. What would also be great is to get meat consumption and dairy to trend down. What is really encouraging to me is that during the pandemic my local grocery ran out of Oatley before cows milk
I’m a 12 year old American female, democratic, non religious vegan. I’ve been a vegan since I was 11 and a vegetarian since I was 7, I love being vegan and I think we should all try the vegan diet to save the animals!
from where did you get the data ?
I have been a vegan since September 1997 at age 47 ( B. 1951). Lacto- ovo veg from 1951 to 1974 ; non vegetarian from 1974 to 1988 ; Vegetarian from 1988 to 1997 and Vegan from 1997 till date . . Reason health .
I feel your study is incomplete. You are totally ignored a population of more than 24.90 percent of the world population. They are known as Muslims .The followers of Islam. When you make a study about such a subjects they also should be counted. .
Whereas only 2.5% of Americans over the age of 50 identify as Vegan or Vegetarian, 10% of 18 to 29 year olds and 12% of 30 to 49 years olds do so.
WHEN I WAS IN SCHOOL, I WALK TO SCHOOL TWENTY MILES. BOTH WAYS. ON ONE FOOT. MY ODER FOOT STARTED A BUSINESS. YUS IS A FAAAIIILLURE
It would be great if you could update the statistics and add what percentage of the vegans are single (living alone). Based on my samples, most of them are single/alone. That’s why I’m looking for some stats to see if my observation is correct.
Thank you very much for keep this information.
Just wondering, what is the original source of this data, can’t find any report with such clear results? Thanks in advance
0.1% of 7,53 billion is not 75 million, but rather 7,5 million.