More young, liberal Americans identify as vegan or vegetarian than any other group, little change from 2012

By Beth Newhart contact

- Last updated on GMT

With an increasing market for plant-based products, plant-based dairy alternatives may soon account for 40% of all dairy beverage sales. Pic: ©GettyImages/marilyna
With an increasing market for plant-based products, plant-based dairy alternatives may soon account for 40% of all dairy beverage sales. Pic: ©GettyImages/marilyna

Related tags: vegetarian, vegan, Veganism, plant-based milk, Milk, Dairy alternatives

Only 5% of Americans identify as vegetarian and just 3% identify as vegan despite a much wider range of meat-free and dairy-free options on the market, a Gallup report finds.

Brands are becoming increasingly aware of consumer demand for allergen-free products, resulting in more options than ever. It’s far more common now to find food and beverages in the supermarket with dairy-free, gluten-free and lactose-free claims on labels than 20 years ago, leading to a burgeoning market for alternative, plant-based products.

But according to a recent Gallup report, the number of US vegan and vegetarians has changed little since the 1990s. In both 1999 and 2001, 6% of all Americans identified as vegetarian, and in 2012 and 2018, just 5% did. In 2012, 2% of Americans identified as vegan, and in 2018, 3% did.

However, the numbers tell a different story when intersected with age and politics. Gallup found that one in 10 self-described liberals are vegetarian at 11% and 5% are vegan. Just 2% of self-described conservatives reported being vegetarian or vegan.

The highest concentration of vegetarians are in the 30-49 age group (8%) and the 18-29 age group (7%) and also make less than $30,000 annually (9%). Only 4% of people making more than $75,000 annually reported being vegetarian.

Defining the absolutes

Plant-based food sales grew by 8.1% and exceeded $3.1bn in 2017, according to Gallup. Plant-based dairy alternatives may soon account for 40% of all beverage sales in the dairy category.

The rise in popularity of plant-based alternatives also resulted in the FDA announcing last month​ that they plan to "review and modernize the standards of identity for US dairy products​."

The FDA said relaxed restrictions on labeling can lead to misinformation and public health concerns. It also requested feedback from stakeholders and the public for drafting the new policies.

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