The 7 most vegetarian countries worldwide

Sushree Behera

Some time ago, the world was divided into vegetarian and non-vegetarians. But now, however, it is not the same. Many categories and subcategories are influencing people’s eating habits for the better.

Many countries practice vegetarianism hugely. Its history, culture, and people played an important role in shaping its consumption habits. 

That is not to say that they are wholly vegetarians, but these countries prioritise and value vegetarianism. To name a few, India, Mexico, Israel, Taiwan, Italy, Finland and Sweden can be called the top 7 vegetarian countries.

The nations with the highest vegetarianism rates

People are attracted to vegetarianism for various reasons, most of which involve religion, personal choice, environmental and sustainability reasons, and health priority. Some of the population might even have an inherent dislike for meat; the reasons vary. Here are the top 7 countries which are reported to have the highest rate of vegetarians globally. 

1. India (29-39% of population)

Unsurprisingly, India stands at the top with the highest chunk of vegetarians practising a vegetarian diet. After the advent of Buddhism and Jainism, the habit of eating non-meat foods became popular.

Lacto-vegetarians are those people who consume dairy products but not eggs. India has the most people with these consumption interests. Interesting fact, India happens to be the county which has the lowest meat consumption rate.

Some of the communities which adhere to being vegetarians are Vaishnavs, Brahmins, Jains and Lingayat communities. 

2. Mexico (19% of the population)

One of the significant reasons why vegetarianism is increasing is due to environmental and health reasons. Mexico is largely becoming a vegetarian country. Youths and females are the sectors of the population who are practising more of consuming no meat.

Since the number seems to only be increasing, one might find many vegan restaurants setting their businesses up in Mexico City. About 73% of the Mexican population is overweight, and practising vegetarianism has positive effects, potentially cutting these numbers down considerably. 

Read more: What will we eat in the future? Challenges and trends of the coming years

3. Israel (13% of the population)

Judaism is a significant factor contributing to practising vegetarianism as it discourages the consumption of animals. The is a growing hub for eateries which offer a varied variety of vegetarian options. One of the most popular vegan diets, Mediterranean cuisine, has driven discussions about the country’s large vegan base.

The vegetarian country’s city, Tel Aviv, hosts the most flamboyant vegan festival where thousands of people from around the world show up. Overall, this city has consistently come on top of the list as a favourite travel destination for vegans.

4. Taiwan (12-14% of the population)

As per the studies by WorldAtlas, this vegetarian country stands in the 2nd position for its vegetarianism. There is an ocean of eateries in and around Taiwan (about 6000) catering to one’s meatless diet. Buddhist diet is the most prominent in addition to Hokkien and Hakka cuisine, all of which are based on plant-based philosophy of cooking.

Taiwan is also known for its stern food labelling laws when it comes to vegetarian food. In present-day Taiwan, vegetarianism is driven not just by cultural and religious factors but by health and lifestyle. 

5. Italy (10% of the population)

In the whole of Europe, Italy makes up most vegetarians, making up 10% of the whole population. Italy has witnessed a growing number of vegetarians increasing day by day. Italians give out many reasons, including animal kindness, health, and sustainability factors, for practising vegetarianism.

In 2016, the city of Turin put forth a meat-reduction agenda promoting the concept of anti-animal cruelty, health, etc. This vegetarian country is a testament to the potential of growing awareness and education about vegetarianism. 

6. Finland (12% of the population)

There are over 660,000 people practising vegetarianism in Finland. Vegan popularity is based mostly on individuals’ principles and beliefs on animal cruelty, health and the environment. Interesting fact: the Finnish Vegetarian Society is one of the earliest and oldest societies on vegetarianism found in the world.

Although the Finnish diet is extensively meat-centred, there are an increasing number of vegan cafes and restaurants in the country. As one of the measures to promote vegetarianism, the Finnish government has encouraged “Meatless Mondays” in the year 2019. 

7. Sweden (12% of the population)

According to a recent survey, 9% of youths identify as Vegetarians. The overall meat consumption of the country has dripped to 2.7 per cent.

It is important to note that most of the women in Sweden are vegetarians. As the demand for vegetarian food increases, many food leaders have stepped up their game and brought together many dishes catering to vegetarians. 

Why is the world moving towards vegetarianism?

The World is steadily moving in the direction of vegetarianism. Most people who go vegan cite the reasons for health and environment.

The meat industry is one of the most significant contributors to climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and other sustainability issues.

As the status quo understands the looming shadow of human obliteration, going vegan means taking one step forward.

Read more: Lab-grown meat: all you need to know about its pros and cons

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