Lots of people are guilty of saying one thing and doing something else. They’re “going to exercise,” “eat less fast food,” “stop talking on their phone while driving,” etc. However, they probably didn’t proclaim to the world that they adhere to a certain lifestyle while regularly (and secretively) veering from it.
A recent article in Business Insider reported on the results of a CNN survey, in which 10,000 Americans were asked about their eating habits. Approximately 6 percent of the respondents identified themselves as vegetarians, however when researchers asked them to describe their eating habits, 60 percent of the so-called vegetarians reported having eaten red meat, poultry or fish within the last 24 hours!
These results mirror a similar study (the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals) conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More than 13,300 Americans were surveyed, with 3 percent claiming to be vegetarians. However, when researchers followed up a week later, 66 percent of the self-proclaimed, duplicitous veggie-lovers had eaten meat the day before. They sure were talking out of both sides of their mouths.
It appears vegetarians like the name but don’t adhere to the definition. In some social circles, it’s popular to be a vegetarian, and teenagers may use it as a way to rebel against their parents. In fact, one teeny bopper who berated the picture of a gilt being shown at the World Pork Expo proudly proclaimed to “just becoming a vegetarian.” My guess is her vow lasted a day or two.
She wouldn’t be alone. Vegetarianism is a phase rather than a lifestyle for the majority of people who try it. Surveys suggest that roughly 75 percent of the people who quit eating meat eventually change their minds and return to a diet that includes animal flesh.
I think it’s ironic and a little bit funny that Bill Clinton is a professed vegetarian. In fact, he would be the perfect spokesman for the movement. He’s already an experienced liar, and people want to believe that he doesn’t eat meat. Personally, my guess is he’s a closet bacon-eater.
It’s not surprising that people want to eat meat, even though they say they don’t. It’s one of the safest, most economical and available sources of protein and it’s delicious.
“The great paradox of our culture's schizoid attitudes about animals is that as our concern for their welfare has increased, so has our desire to eat them,” writes Hal Herzog in a Psychology Today article. Herzog says that in 1975, the average American ate 178 pounds of red meat and poultry; by 2007, the number had jumped to 222 pounds. And while the number of cattle harvested for consumption has decreased by nearly 20 percent since 1975, the number of chickens harvested has risen 200 percent. If you include dairy and eggs in the equation, the average American eats 920 pounds of animal products each year.
While animal rights groups and others who promote vegetarianism have worked hard to demoralize meat consumption, the vast majority of Americans aren’t biting. Instead, they’re biting into juicy, mouth-watering pork chops, steaks and burgers.