The American Meat Institute on Friday said former vegetarians are welcome back to the meat-eating population following the release of a Harris Interactive survey that found five out of six Americans who adopt vegetarianism ultimately abandon the diet.
The survey of more than 11,000 adults found that only 2% of Americans don't consume meat at all, and 88% have never been vegetarians or vegans, and 12% of Americans have tried a vegetarian lifestyle.
"This new data shows what we've known intuitively. Meat and poultry are irresistible for their taste and nutrition," said Janet Riley, senior vice president of public affairs at the American Meat Institute. "A growing body of evidence reveals that balanced diets that include meat and poultry are the best option for good nutrition and for weight control because meat controls hunger."
Harris Interactive conducted the survey for the Humane Research Council. Other findings include:
• 58% did not see vegetarianism/veganism as part of their identity
• 63% said they disliked that their diet made them stick out from the crowd
• 69% listed 'health' as a major motivation for adopting the diet, while 68% adopt the diet for animal protection
Despite the connection to "animal protection," AMI said consumers can feel confident that animal handling and humane treatment are "better than ever."
As evidence, AMI pointed to its "Glass Walls" videos hosted by animal welfare expert Temple Grandin, Ph.D., which offer unscripted tours of beef, pork and turkey plants.
AMI also pointed out that food from animals, including meat and poultry, are the natural source of Vitamin B12, which is critical for normal metabolism and mental clarity. Vegan diets, AMI said, require B12 supplementation.
Additionally, iron and zinc in beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and fish are more "bioavailable," meaning they are more easily absorbed and utilized by the body, than these minerals from grains or vegetables.
AMI also said that people following the Mediterranean dietary pattern associated with good health outcomes actually consume twice as many processed meats than the amounts in the USDA food pattern, according to a new analysis for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee presented in a public meeting in November.
Click above for full infographic. (Source: Humane Research Council)
For more information on the study, view the HRC blog.