The first reliable statistics regarding the number of vegetarians in the United States, of which we have any knowledge, came to hand recently as the result of a survey made by the American Institute of Public Opinion (Gallup Poll).
The findings of this study, conducted at the request of Francis D. Nichol, editor of Life and Health,* were released to the public press (Washington Post, October 2, 1943) with some pertinent comments by -George Gallup, director of the institute.
To a cross-section sampling of the adult population of the United States, the institute put the following question: "Some people in the United States are vegetarians, that is, people who eat no fish, fowl, or meat of any kind. Do you happen to be a vegetarian?"
The percentage of those answering this question in the affirmative in relation to the number of adults in the population, excluding members of the armed forces, gave a total figure for vegetarians in the U. S. A. of 2,800,000. The survey indicated that vegetarians were quite evenly distributed throughout the country. "Cities of over 100,000 population show the highest percentage of people practicing vegetarianism, the survey finds."
The vegetarians encountered were asked why they happened to be nontiesh eaters. The principal reasons given by them "were reasons having to do with health, with religious or humanitarian considerations, or with taste preferences in food."
This survey appeals to us as being worth while and interesting—as being a good piece of work on the part of Life and Health in initiating the study, thus bringing the subject of vegetarianism nationally to the fore.
As a people, should we not be doing more to bring the distinctive features of our health message to the attention of the masses? As medical missionaries we may well ask ourselves if, in our own sphere of influence, we are doing all that we can for the cause of sound, balanced healthful living in all its various phases.
*Interesting comments on this Gallup Poll are found on the editor's page in Life and Health for December, 1943.