More people around the world are thinking more about their eating habits, in particular their meat consumption and turning into vegetarianism or veganism. While some people are choosing a meat-free diet because they do like animals being killed for their food, others are choosing vegetarian or vegan lifestyles for environmental reasons.
In this article, we explore veganism and vegetarianism in Canada through statistics. You will find out whether Canadians, too, are swapping meat for vegetables, which province has the most vegans and vegetarians, and how Canada compares to other countries in the adoption of vegan and vegetarian diets among other statistics.
Veganism and Vegetarianism Statistics for Canadians
- In 2020, 7.6% of Canadians were vegetarian and 4.6% were vegan.
- Canadians aged 18-29 are the most likely to follow a vegetarian, vegan, or pescetarian diet.
- Between 2017 and 2021, the compound annual growth rate for plant-based ready meal sales in Canada was 441.8%.
- Ontario has the most vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Canada with 2,233 restaurants.
- Victoria has the most vegan restaurants per population with 17.85 restaurants per 10,000 people.
- Internet searches for vegan and plant-based options have grown by 113% since 2016.
- India ranks first for vegetarianism with 20% to 39% of the population following a vegetarian diet.
- For veganism, India shares the top spot with Mexico with 9% of both countries’ populations being vegans.
Definition of Vegans and Vegetarians
Both vegans and vegetarians choose not to include meat in their diet. While vegetarians will not eat meat, chicken, or fish, vegans are stricter. Vegans will not include any foods in their diet that have been derived from animals, including eggs, dairy, and honey. In addition, vegans will not use products that use materials derived from animals, for example leather or silk.
There are different sub-categories of vegetarianism. People who follow a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet avoid fish, meat, and poultry but will eat eggs and dairy products. Lacto-vegetarians will not eat eggs but will consume dairy products, while ovo-vegetarians will not have dairy products but will eat eggs.
Some people also include pescatarians under the vegetarian umbrella even though the diet does not meet traditional definitions of vegetarianism. Pescetarians will not eat meat or poultry but will include fish and other seafood in their diet. Sometimes people describe pescetarians as semi-vegetarian or flexitarian.
Veganism and Vegetarianism in Canada
The number of both vegetarians and vegans is increasing in Canada based on two studies from 2018 and 2020. In 2018, the portion of vegetarians in Canada was 6.9% and in 2020 it had increased by 10.1% to 7,6%, which is 2,888,000 people.
The number of vegans increased in the two years between the studies by an incredible 84%. The portion of vegans of the Canadian population was 2.5% in 2018 compared to 4.6% in 2020.This means that in 2020, around 1,768,000 Canadians were vegan.
In addition to the Canadians who are already vegans or vegetarians, many others consider reducing their meat consumption. 40% of Canadian adults are ready to cut back on the amount of meat in their diet. 18% said they were going to do it in the near future and 9% had definitely decided to cut down on meat.
People often say, or assume, that women are more likely than men to be vegetarian or vegan. However, survey findings in Canada do not support that view. While more women than men are pescetarian or lacto-ovo-vegetarian in Canada, men are more likely to be vegan. In 2020, 5.6% of Canadian men were vegan compared to 3.6% of Canadian women.
Younger Canadians Are More Likely to Follow Meat-Free Diets
When comparing the adoption of vegan, vegetarian, and pescetarian diets among different age groups, all three meat-free diets are more popular among younger Canadians. Among 18 and 19-year old Canadians, 7% are vegetarian, 5% are vegan, and 5% are pescetarian. The picture is very similar in the next age group, the 20-29-year old Canadians. 6% of Canadians in this age group are vegetarian, 5% are vegan, and 5% are pescetarian.
In the next age group, which is 30-39-year olds, all three meat-free diets are equally common at 4%. There are 5% vegetarians, 2% vegans, and 3% pescetarians among the 40-49-year old Canadians. Canadians in the 50-59 age group are more likely to follow a pescetarian diet at 3% than a vegetarian or a vegan diet, both at 1%.
Finally, in the oldest age group included in the survey, the 60-64-year-olds, there were 3% vegetarians but 0% vegans or pescetarians. This does not mean there are absolutely no vegans or pescetarians in this age group. Rather that there were not enough to register on the data.
Demand for Plant-Based Ready Meals Has Increased in Canada
While the number of people eating entirely meat free diets remains relatively small, many more people are reducing the amount of meat they eat. Globally, 40% of consumers are reducing the amount of animal-based foods they consume. This shift is evident in Canada, too, as the demand for plant-based ready meals keeps growing in Canada.
According to the Government of Canada, the retail shares of plant-based ready meals were valued at $25,2 million and they represented 17.4% of total ”free from” ready meal sales. Between 2017 and 2021, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for sales of plant-based ready meals in Canada was 441.8%. The predicted CAGR for 2022-2026 is 502.8%.
In Canada, 36 new plant-based meals launched between 2017 and 2021, which included pizzas, meal kits and prepared meals.
Most Canadian Consumers Are Familiar With Meat Alternatives
According to a poll from 2019, 95% of Canadian consumers are already familiar with plant-based meat alternatives. Millennials and Generation Z Canadians were the most likely age groups to be familiar with vegan meat alternatives. 70% of younger Canadians believed that vegan meat alternatives are here to stay, while 58% had already eaten vegan alternatives for meat.
Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in Canada
According to the website Happy Cow, there are 6,784 restaurants in Canada serving either vegetarian or vegan menus. The number of vegan and vegetarian restaurants is related to the population of the province or territory with Ontario having the most vegan and vegetarian restaurants at 2,233 restaurants.
British Columbia has the next largest number of vegan and vegetarian restaurants with 1,657 restaurants. It is followed by Quebec with 989, Alberta with 660, Nova Scotia with 509, and New Brunswick with 233 restaurants. The territories have the least number of vegan and vegetarian restaurants with 28 in Yukon and 9 in the Northwest Territories. There are no listings for vegan or vegetarian restaurants in Nunavut.
The Most Vegan-Friendly Cities
While the provinces with the largest populations have the most restaurants, we can use another measure to compare the vegan-friendliness of Canadian cities. By comparing the population of a city to the number of restaurants with vegan options, we can find out the places with the most vegan restaurants per population.
Victoria, British Columbia has a population of 91,867 and 164 restaurants with a vegan menu. This means there are 17.85 vegan restaurants per 10,000 residents. Niagara Falls, Ontario is the second most vegan-friendly city in Canada with a population of 94,415 and 70 vegan restaurants, which gives it a ratio of 7.41 vegan restaurants per 10,000 people.
Kelowna, also in British Columbia, is third with a population of 144,576. It has 5.88 vegan restaurants per 10,000 residents with 85 restaurants offering vegan options in the city. Saint John in New Brunswick is fourth with 5.58 restaurants per 10,000 people and Vancouver, British Columbia fifth with 5.42 restaurants per 10,000 people.
Canadian Regions With Most Vegans and Vegetarians
The Canadian surveys on vegans and vegetarians have only included small sample sizes. Therefore, there isn’t enough data to order Canadian provinces and territories. However, there is enough data for some provinces and regions, except the territories, to do some comparisons.
In 2018, British Columbia had the most vegans and vegetarians at 3.9% and 8.6%, respectively. However, by 2020, Ontario had more vegans than British Columbia at 6.9%. Both surveys showed that the Atlantic Regions and the Prairie Provinces had lower portions of vegans and vegetarians.
Veganism is Not Just About Diet
Canadians are not just looking for more animal and environment friendly diets, their choices are extending to other products they buy, too. There has been a 113% increase in internet searches for plant-based alternatives and vegan options in Canada since 2016. For example, between 2018 and 2019, internet searches for vegan cosmetics grew by 14.6%. At the same time, searches for vegan fashion grew by nearly 40% and for vegan leather by 94%.
Countries With the Most Vegetarians
Looking at the numbers of vegetarians worldwide, India has the most vegetarians, with estimates ranging from 20% to 39%. Even at the lower percentage, the country has a bigger portion of vegetarians than any other country.
Mexico has the second biggest portion of vegetarians at 19%. Taiwan has 13% to 14% of vegetarians and Israel 13%. Australia has the fifth largest percentage of vegetarians at 12.1%, With 7.6% of the Canadian population being vegetarian, Canada ranks 21st.
Countries With the Most Vegans
India and Mexico share the top spot for the portion of the population who are vegans. Both countries have 9% of vegans. However, with such different size populations, 9% amounts to significantly more people in India than in Mexico at 121,500,000 compared to 11,250,000.
Poland ranks third for veganism with 7%. However, this data may not be entirely accurate, especially considering that the portion of the population who are vegetarian is just 8.4%. The next country on the veganism list is Israel where 5% of the population is vegan. Canada ranks much higher for veganism than vegetarianism, coming in at number five with its 4.6%.
Are There Health Benefits to Vegan or Vegetarian Diets?
Some studies have found that following a vegan or vegetarian diet can help to maintain a healthy weight, lower a person’s body mass index (BMI), and lower the levels of cholesterol. Following a vegan or vegetarian diet can also help to control blood sugar better, improve blood flow, and reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
Are There Any Risks Involved in Following a Vegan or Vegetarian Diet?
People who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet need to ensure they are getting all the nutrition and vitamins they need. For example, vitamin B-12 is an essential mineral supporting cardiovascular health and the nervous system. It is not naturally found in plant-based foods, so vegans and vegetarians need to ensure they get it from fortified foods or supplements. Other vitamins that vegans and vegetarians need to watch out for include omega-3, zinc, niacin, and vitamin B-6.
The numbers of both vegans and vegetarians have increased in Canada, and for veganism, Canada ranks number five in the world. For vegetarianism, it ranks at number 21. Younger Canadians are more likely to be vegan or vegetarian and are the most familiar with vegan alternatives for meat.
As Canadian consumers continue to look for healthier and more environmentally friendly lifestyles, it is likely that the percentage of vegans and vegetarians will continue to grow in Canada.
Frequently Asked Questions
4.6% of Canadians were vegan and 7.6% were vegetarian based on a 2020 survey. These percentages mean around 1.8 million Canadians are vegan and 2.9 million are vegetarian.
Yes, you can find vegan restaurants in most provinces and territories. Victoria, BC has the most vegan restaurants per capita.
India has the largest percentage of vegetarians, followed by Mexico, Taiwan, and Israel.