In the last 15 years vegetarianism has become more popular, with younger generations embracing its ethics and healthy lifestyle in increasing numbers. According to a study published in the May 2002 issue of Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 6% of the teens in the study self-reported as vegetarian. A 2001 Roper poll placed the U.S. population of teen vegetarians at about 2% (roughly one million school-aged kids!). A national Zogby poll conducted in 2000 found that 6% of young adults, ages 18-29, are vegetarian.

The recent findings published in the Archives of Pediatrics Adolescent Medicine, showed that adolescent vegetarians were healthier than their non-vegetarian peers. Furthermore, “The stricter the vegetarian, the more likely he or she was to meet the objectives of all categories similar to their adult counterparts, [adolescent vegetarians] have dietary patterns that, if maintained, could significantly lower their risk of leading causes of death as adults.” The vegetarian teens ate far less fat, especially saturated fat, than their meat-eating peers.

FoA’s Vegetarian Program Coordinator, Davida Gypsy Breier, says: “This is encouraging news when one considers the Surgeon General’s report that, 13% of children aged 6 to 11 years and 14% of adolescents aged 12 to 19 years in the United States were overweight.”

According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians, whether they are in their teens or senior citizens, can enjoy a “reduced risk for several chronic degenerative diseases and conditions, including obesity, coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and some types of cancer.” “Regardless of age, a vegetarian diet shows that you care about animals, the planet, and your body,” Breier says.

Friends of Animals offers a vegetarian brochure, as well as information in its broad-based work to achieve and ethic of respect in people’s relations with animals around the world. For more information, please visit the Friends of Animals Web site at or write Friends of Animals, 777 Post Road, Suite 205, Darien, CT 06820.

Friends of Animals is an international animal rights organization with more than 200,000 members.