Vegan and Vegetarian Diet Trends in Canada - Statistics and Facts

Vegetarianism and veganism are the practices of maintaining a meat-free diet. While vegetarians typically choose to not eat meat, poultry, game, or fish, vegans also abstain from other animal and animal-derived products, including dairy, eggs, and honey. By-products of animal slaughters, such as gelatin or animal rennet, are also avoided. There are many different reasons to adopt a meat-free diet; while some opt for this diet for religious reasons, others turn to this practice for health reasons, with many considering the vegetarian diet to be a healthy option. Concerns over animal welfare, as well as the impact of animal agriculture and environmental matters, have also lead people to become vegetarians or vegans. Over the last few years, the increasing adoption of meat-free diets has raised awareness of the issues surrounding animal agriculture, thus encouraging many people to rethink their eating choices.

Although meat is traditionally considered to be a major part of the Canadian diet, Canadians are becoming more conscious about meat consumption and diet options. In 2016, a quarter of consumers in a survey in Canada stated that they try to limit the amount of red meat they eat, while eight percent identified themselves as vegetarians or mostly vegetarian. Indeed, the consumption per capita of beef and pork in Canada has declined between 2012 and 2014. During the same time frame, the consumption of chicken per capita slightly increased. British Columbia has one of the largest shares of vegetarians among Canadian provinces, with 13 percent of consumers in the province claiming that they were vegetarian or mostly vegetarian. Meat consumption also varies according to age group. In 2015, about 12 percent of young Canadians claimed that they were vegetarian or mostly vegetarian in contrast to only five percent of Canadians aged 50 and older.

There are several types of vegetarian diets; lacto-ovo vegetarian, lacto-vegetarians, ovo-vegetarians, or vegans. In Canada, vegans represent an above average share of consumer diets among Canada's trailing Millennials, that is, individuals aged from 18 to 24. Along with other factors, the rise of veganism amongst Canadians is one of the reasons suggested by specialists for the decline of milk consumption in the country.

Globally, vegan-labeled food products have experienced steady growth over the past few years. Products labeled as vegan had a growth rate of approximately 3.3 percent in 2015. In comparison, this share stood at 1.4 percent in 2012. Specialists argue that the popularity rise of vegan products could be related to the fact that consumers are no longer only associating vegan products with animal welfare, but also with healthier and cleaner products.

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