Semivegetarians – a phenomenon not entirely new, but noticed relatively recently. In the West, sociologists, marketers and economists are only now beginning to pay attention to this unusual group, which is gaining momentum every day. In a nutshell, its representatives can be defined as people who, for one reason or another, consciously eat less meat and / or other animal products.
To understand what a powerful force we are dealing with, let’s turn to research data: according to them, the number of people who claim to have reduced the amount of meat they eat is four times higher than the number of people who call themselves vegetarians. In the United States, most national surveys have determined that between 1/4 and 1/3 of respondents now eat less meat than they used to.
Psychologically semi-vegetarians are in a much more comfortable position than vegetarians and vegans, because it is much easier for them to integrate into society. Their position is more understandable and convenient for others (“I don’t eat meat today, I’ll eat it tomorrow”). And this approach not only protects the psyche of the semi-vegetarians themselves, but also serves as an aid to “recruiting new personnel.”
But before complaining about the “unscrupulousness” of semi-vegetarians and the corresponding impact on the fate of animals and society, it must be recognized that the number of people who actually reduce the amount of meat they eat is much greater than the number of people who are actually vegetarians.
If you’re wondering what effect semi-vegetarians are having on the lives of farm animals, then you need to pay attention to the latest market developments. For example, in the United States, per capita meat consumption fell by about 10% between 2006 and 2012. And this has affected not only red meat: pork, beef, chicken and turkey – demand has fallen on all types. And who made such a failure? Semi-vegetarians. Although the rate of “new arrivals” of vegetarians increased between 2006 and 2012, this growth is nothing compared to the number of people who can reduce the level of meat consumption in the country by 10%. Much of this decline is due to the number of semi-vegetarians who are blindly hitting meat sales figures and hitting quite well.
Even the merchants got the message. Manufacturers of vegetarian meat substitutes are already targeting semi-vegetarians because they are a much larger group than vegetarians and vegans.
Semi-vegetarians are similar to vegetarians in a number of ways. For example, women predominate among them. According to a number of studies, women are 2-3 times more likely to become semi-vegetarians than men are semi-vegetarians.
In 2002, researchers concluded that people who are not in a relationship, people who have children, and people who have college degrees are also slightly more likely to enjoy meat-free meals. The authors of two other studies found that, like vegetarians, semi-vegetarians are more likely to be health conscious and embrace the values of equality and compassion for all.
In terms of age, semi-vegetarianism is based on older people, especially those over 55. This is quite logical, given that this group is most likely to reduce the amount of meat consumed (often for health reasons, even if not for a significant reason).
It is also not clear whether semi-vegetarianism is associated with cost savings and generally with income levels. The results of two studies suggest that semi-vegetarians are more likely to have a low income. On the other hand, a 2002 Finnish study shows that the majority of people who replace red meat with chicken are in the middle class. Another study suggests that high-income people are more likely to be semi-vegetarian. In this study, as the income level of respondents increased, so did the chances that a person was eating fewer non-meat meals than before.
In Russia, semi-vegetarianism continues to take positions no worse than in the West. If you think about it, it’s not surprising. Think of all your relatives who, after listening to your horror stories about slaughterhouses, began to eat much less meat (or even abandoned many of its types), but, say, continue to eat fish and from time to time do not refuse, say, chicken. Think of all the people you know who would like to lose weight or improve the health of their internal organs, so they try to avoid such fatty foods as meat. Think of elderly colleagues with complex diagnoses who no longer want to eat anything heavy.
All these people around the world form hundreds of millions of those who today influence how much meat will be produced tomorrow, and, consequently, the fate of our neighbors on the planet. But what drives them?
In their motivations Semi-vegetarians are markedly different from vegetarians. According to the results of research, in some respects, the manifestations of their personalities and life choices fall roughly in the middle between vegetarians and omnivores. In other respects they are much closer to omnivores than to vegetarians.
The difference between semi-vegetarians and vegetarians especially tangible when it comes to reasons for giving up meat. If among vegetarians, health and animals go almost head to head as fundamental motivations, then in the case of semi-vegetarians, the results of most studies show a huge gap between the health factor as a fundamental one. No other aspect even comes close in terms of performance. For example, in a 2012 US study of people who tried to eat less red meat, it turned out that 66% of them mentioned health care, 47% – saving money, while 30% and 29% talked about animals. – about the environment.
The results of numerous other studies have confirmed the conclusion of scientists that semi-vegetarians, who are concerned not only with aspects of health, but also with the ethical aspects of giving up meat, are much more likely to refuse various types of meat and move towards full vegetarianism. In other words, if you want to help a semi-vegetarian get rid of culinary relics, you can tell him how vegetarianism affects the fate of animals.
And although health concerns are clearly the leading motivation for reducing meat consumption, the effect that ethical factors have on them is very tangible. For example, in the US, agricultural researchers at Kansas State University and Purdue University analyzed the impact of the media on the level of meat consumption in society. The study focused on the coverage of animal issues in the chicken, pork and beef industries between 1999 and 2008 in leading US newspapers and magazines. The scientists then compared the data with changes in consumer demand for meat over that time period. Most of the stories were investigative reports on industrial livestock enterprises or reviews of the legal regulation in the industry, or general stories about industrial animal husbandry.
The researchers found that while the demand for beef remained unchanged (despite media coverage), the demand for poultry and pork did change. When stories of cruelty to chickens and pigs hit the headlines, the public began to eat less food made from these animals. At the same time, people did not just switch from one type of meat to another: they generally reduced their consumption of animal flesh. The fall in demand for poultry and pork continued for the next 6 months after the news on the topic of cruelty in industrial animal husbandry.
All this once again revives the words of Paul McCartney that if slaughterhouses had transparent walls, all people would have become vegetarians long ago. It turns out that even if for someone these walls become at least translucent, such an experience does not pass without a trace. In the end, the path to compassion is long and thorny, and everyone goes through it in their own way.