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I read a study that approximately 10% of people have been vegetarian, and only 2% are at any given time. It seems that vegetarianism has a low retention rate.

Are there studies that try to determine the main factors that make people drop vegetarianism?

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    I think many people "try" a vegetarian diet out of curiosity, without strong intentions. Do you want them included in your question or excluded? – Turion Feb 6 '17 at 12:04
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    Can you post a link to this study? – Turion Feb 6 '17 at 12:04
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    This isn't opinion based, as it asks for studies (despite citing an unknown one). Please don't VTC. – Riker Feb 12 '17 at 23:24
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Those statistics may be misleading. Some people only practice vegetarianism for particular times such as fasting for religious reasons or financial reasons. Many of my non-vegetarian family members didn't eat meat while flatting at university to simply save money.

Other people stop being vegetarian once they leave their parents home or travel abroad, particularly international students from India. Some see eating meat as cultural assimilation in Western countries and even remain vegetarian when visiting their family. If they're raised vegetarian rather than choosing to do so I'm not sure this is "quitting".

Another consideration is that ovo-lacto vegetarian is assumed for vegetarians so many people on a stricter diet may not identify with the term. Does becoming vegan mean they wouldn't be counted as vegetarian here?

I wouldn't consider many of these people to have "tried" or "quit" vegetarianism. I'd be very cautious of interpreting or designing these studies due to potential confounding variables.

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    I'm pretty sure that for these purposes, a vegan would be counted as vegetarian. – Turion Feb 6 '17 at 13:12
  • And, here as well: Do you have any specific studies that you're referring to? It's a little bold to refer to "those statistics" without specifying them. – Turion Feb 6 '17 at 13:17
  • I'm critiquing the figures given by the OP. What else could I possibly be going on? I'm not aware of any studies that have been done on this topic but I think there are some serious concerns that would need to be addressed were one to be undertaken. – Tom Kelly Feb 6 '17 at 13:22
  • It sounded as if you knew the statistics the OP is referring to, and critiquing them in particular. I agree that you have a good point about what might go wrong when someone tries to whip up such statistics, but it's still possible that someone has conducted a study and took care of the points you mentioned. – Turion Feb 6 '17 at 13:24
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    I look forward to a better answer if there is. It is not my research field so someone is likely to do a better job than me (I'm actually a cancer genetics / biostatistics researcher). Until then, here are few reasons I think it would be very difficult to do well. Although I agree that I would be able to address more specific points if the OP linked or cited the study ;-) – Tom Kelly Feb 6 '17 at 13:29
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Faunalytics collected data on current and former vegetarians in May 2014 and released a number of reports with findings on the data.

  • The process of moving away from a vegetarian or vegan diet is multifaceted and complex, and the same appears to be true for anticipating a return to one of these diets.
  • Former vegetarians/vegans were asked to give the primary reason they stopped eating the diet. The frequency with which the reasons for lapsing were mentioned were: unsatisfied with food (293), health (237), social issues (120), inconvenience (115), cost (56), lack of motivation (56), and other (228).
  • Former vegetarians/vegans who said they were interested in resuming the diet were asked what they would need in order to do so. In order of most common, the requirements for re-adoption were related to: food (convenience, taste, etc.) (125), motivation/incentive/dedication (58), social (52), cost (more money or less expensive food) (47), health (35), and other (8).
  • Many individuals gave multiple reasons for why they left the diet or what they would need to resume it (or both), indicating that there is no single factor at play. While the majority of participants provided just one answer to the question at hand, the answers they chose varied substantially. Again, this suggests that there is no one approach that advocates should consider to address these concerns.

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