Vegetarian Profile

Vegetarian Profile: Are Vegetarians Unique?

Is there a typical vegetarian profile? Are they a unique group of people that share the same characteristics?

Approximately nine million Americans,(or 4 percent of the population), call themselves vegetarians. Here’s what we know so far from the small amount of research that’s been:

A Vegetarian Profile Emerges

Vegetarians May Be More Intelligent

One observational study published in the British Medical Journal says “yes.” It found that children with a high IQ were more likely to become vegetarians later in life.

“Higher IQ at age ten years was associated with an increased likelihood of being vegetarian at age 30.”

They also found that vegetarians were more likely to be female, with better education and higher occupation than non-vegetarians. The results below from another two surveys seem to back this up.

Most Vegetarians Have Professional or Managerial Positions

Percent of RespondentsOccupation
40 percentProfessional or managerial
24 percentBlue-collar workers
16 percentStudents
12 percentHomemakers
9 percentClerical or sales positions

A Higher Percentage of Women are on a Vegetarian Diet

71 percent are women

29 percent are men

The Average Age is 35

The median age of all vegetarians is thirty-five.

Vegetarianism is Not a Fad

Vegetarianism does not appear to be a fad. Eight years was the median length of time that study participants had been vegetarians.

Vegetarianism is Also an Ideology

For most vegetarians, vegetarianism is more than what not to eat: It’s an ideology of how people should live.

Most Vegetarians Convert for Ethical and Social Concerns

Percent of RespondentsReason(s) for Converting
67 percentConcerned with animal suffering
38 percentMotivated by considerations of health
17 percentReligious reasons
12 percentDistaste for meat
7 percentPersonal growth
5 percentConcern about world hunger
3 percentEconomic reasons

There’s some overlap to the choices above.

From this same survey group, 38 percent were motivated solely by ethical and social concerns, 19 percent for health reasons, and 43 percent for a combination of reasons.

Vegetarians are More “Health Conscious”

In a population-based study in British Columbia (BC), the survey results show vegetarians appear to be more health-conscious than non-vegetarians.

We need a lot more research to draw any definitive conclusions about the typical vegetarian profile. The one thing we are sure about is people switch to a vegetarian diet for different reasons.


Jennifer L Bedford and Susan I Barr, Diets and selected lifestyle practices of self-defined adult vegetarians from a population-based sample suggest they are more health conscious.

16th Annual Consumer Attitudes About Nutrition, United Soybean Board, 2009

Reed mangels, Virginia Messina, Mark Messina, The Dietitia Guide to Vegetarian Diets 3E

John Lawrence Hill, The case for vegetarianism: philosophy for a small planet

Pratiyogita Darpan, Feb 2007

Marjaana Lindeman and Minna Sirelius, “Food choice ideologies: the modern manifestations of normative and humanist views of the world,” Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki.