A 2007 survey issued to approximately 9,000 adults by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that 367,000 children are vegetarians, that translates to about 1 in every 200 kids. It is estimated that the number could be four to six times higher for teens and young adults since they have greater control over their diet. An Associated Press article, CDC Study: 1 in 200 American Youths is Vegetarian, details the results of the CDC survey and interviews with young vegetarians.
There is brief mention of kids who are berated and made fun of for their dietary choice, as in the case of Sam Silverman, co-captain of his high school’s football team, says, “my friends try to get me to eat meat and tell me how good it tastes and how much bigger I would be.” But in some settings, such as Agnes Scott College, vegetarianism is widespread and food choices at cafeterias are beginning to cater to the students’ dietary choice.
Many kids are choosing to go vegetarian or vegan due to their distaste for the idea of eating animals. This growing awareness about food among our younger generations is very encouraging especially with other recent studies that show smart children become vegetarian adults.
The choice of many kids to live a meat-free lifestyle coincides with current discourse about industrial farming, especially of animals, since it is not sustainable. It is a hot issue in my former major, Animal Science, and I have frequently discussed with people that the mass consumption of animal products is a luxury that cannot be sustained through the agricultural industry’s current practices.
Another encouraging element about this statistic is that a balanced vegetarian or vegan diet can often prevent or help manage health problems such as heart disease. And while there is a stereotype that a life without meat is bland, if you search your local grocery store you are sure to find some flavorful meatless alternatives.
Image: Fruit & Vegetable Box by karimian under Creative Commons License