Millennials drive the push towards vegetarianism

By Marina Wang

A&W restaurants recently launched its Beyond Meat Burger, “made 100% by plant-based protein”, while Aroma Espresso Bar adds a new veggie patty to their menu. Meanwhile, Earl’s unveils a new vegan menu. The surge of vegetarian and vegan options in the last few years could largely be driven by millennials.

The percent of vegans and vegetarians in Canada is estimated to have stayed around the same in the past decade, with 7.1 per cent identifying as vegetarian and 2.3 per cent identifying as vegan, according to a recent poll from Dalhousie University. Surprisingly however, more than half of those adopting animal-free diets were under the age of 35.

“Those are really, really high numbers,” Sylvain Charlebois, a food researcher at Dalhousie University, told the Canadian Press. “Even though we believe the overall rates have not gone up, they could go up over the next couple of decades as a result of seeing such a high number of young consumers committing to speciality diets… That will actually impact food demand over the next few decades and I suspect the food industry will need to adapt.”

According to Charlebois, many young people are ditching the bacon for health, environmental, and animal welfare concerns. Studies have previously illustrated the negative health impact that consuming excessive red meat can have, as well as the environmental footprint left behind by the meat industry.

The poll surveyed 1049 adults across Canada. Women were found to be 0.6 times more likely to be vegetarian or vegan than men, and the provinces with the highest percentage of vegetarians/vegans were British Columbia at 15% and Ontario at 11%. Prairie provinces tended to have the lowest number of vegetarians and vegans.

The poll also found that Canadians with university degrees were three times more likely to be vegetarian/vegan, and urbanites were three times more likely to give up meat than their rural counterparts.