It's Hip to Go Vegan
Feb 14, 2006

From movies such as "Finding Nemo" ("Fish are friends, not food") to bands such as Goldfinger ("Free Me"), kids today are hearing a message that it's not cool to eat meat, a message that more and more are taking to heart.

"In the past few years, vegetarianism and veganism have become very common among high school students," 18-year-old Jessica Collins, a 2005 Brownsburg High School grad who attends IUPUI, said in a recent e-mail, "especially those associated with the hardcore music scene."

In fact, according to a nationwide study in 2002 by market research group Teenage Research Unlimited, more than 20 percent of teenagers surveyed said vegetarianism is "in."

That's not to say that 20 percent of teens are vegetarians. According to a 2000 Vegetarian Resource Group-sponsored Roper poll, about 2 percent of youths ages 6 to 17 never eat meat, fish or poultry, about the same as in 1995. So if the numbers aren't up, why all the teen interest? The VRG noted the disparity between what people call themselves and how they actually eat in a January/February 2001 Vegetarian Journal article. "Often polls obtain higher numbers for vegetarians, but usually in those cases, the questions pertain not to what food a person actually consumes, but whether that person considers himself or herself vegetarian," noted the report. "It's great that vegetarianism has such a positive image that people want to be considered vegetarian. However, many of those answering 'yes' are not technically vegetarians according to the traditional definition of never eating meat, fish, or fowl."

Regardless of what they call themselves, young people clearly are interested in vegetarianism, and today it's easier than ever to go veg. Vegetarian fare has gone mainstream, with meat substitutes that actually taste good and a wide range of frozen foods available at most grocery stores.

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