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A poll has revealed that younger Canadians are more likely to ditch animal products than their older counterparts.
The poll, conducted for Dalhousie University professor Dr. Sylvain Charlebois – who says it is the first of its kind – suggests those under 35 are three times more likely to consider themselves vegetarians or vegans than those aged 49 or older.
According to the data, 7.1 percent of Canadians identify as vegetarian, and 2.3 percent identify as vegan.
The poll showed more than half those who identify as veg*ns are aged 35 or under – a stat Charlebois described as ‘mind-blowing’.
He said: “Those are really, really high numbers.
“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 younger people are ditching animal foods for a number of reasons: to reduce their environmental footprint, because of concern over animal welfare and the industrialization of agriculture, and to improve their own health.
Speaking about health he said: “A lot of studies are actually discouraging consumers from eating red meats specifically.
“Even the World Health Organization has made processed meats a category one product, which means it could cause cancer, at the same level as asbestos.
“Health seems to be a big driver across the board. That really could entice consumers to commit to veganism or vegetarianism.”
Responses from 1,049 adult Canadians were used in the survey, which was conducted by third-party data collector Qualtrics. Results are considered accurate within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Data showed that women surveyed were 0.6 times more likely to consider themselves vegetarian or vegan than men, city dwellers were three times more likely to commit to veganism than those in small towns, and Canadians with a university degree were three times more likely to consider themselves vegetarians or vegans than those with a high school diploma.
Charlebois said: “I’m not aware of a scientific study around vegetarian and vegan rates in Canada specifically.
“As we were collecting data, we started to realize that this is rich data that will help us understand where veganism and vegetarianism is going in the country.”