Vegetarianism by country
Around the world, vegetarianism is viewed in different lights. In some areas, there is cultural and even legal support, such as in India and the United Kingdom, where food labelling is in place which can make it easier for vegetarians to identify foods compatible with their diets. The results of a recent International survey suggest the definitions of vegetarianism vary from nation to nation. Vegetarians in some nations consume more animal products than those in other nations.
In China, although full vegetarianism is a fairly rare practice, vegetarianism has been around since at least the 7th century and has been practised by devout Buddhists through cultural influence from India. In recent years, it has seen a new resurgence in the cities as the emerging middle class in China pay attention to issues of health and diet. In 2010, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao (溫家寶總理) proposed a nationwide campaign of "one day of vegetarianism every week" (每週一素), mainly as part of a broader environmental platform.
Republic of China (Taiwan) 
In Taiwan, 1.7 million people, or 10% of the population of Taiwan, follows a vegetarian diet at least some of the time. There are more than 6,000 vegetarian eating establishments in Taiwan. Food labelling laws for vegetarian food are the world's strictest, because around 2 million Taiwanese use vegetarian food. A popular movement of "one day vegetarian every week" has been advocated on a national level, and on a local level, even government bodies are involved, such as the Taipei City Board of Education.
In India, vegetarianism is usually synonymous with lacto vegetarianism. Most restaurants in India clearly distinguish and market themselves as being either "non-vegetarian", "vegetarian", or "pure vegetarian". Vegetarian restaurants abound, usually, many vegetarian (Shakahari: plant-eater, in Sanskrit) options are available. Animal-based ingredients (other than milk and honey) such as lard, gelatin, and meat stock are not used in the traditional cuisine.
According to the 2006 Hindu-CNN-IBN State of the Nation Survey, 31% of Indians are vegetarians, while another 9% consumes eggs. Among the various communities, vegetarianism was most common among Jain community and then Brahmins at 55%, and less frequent among Muslims (3%) and residents of coastal states. Other surveys cited by FAO and USDA estimate 20%–42% of the Indian population as being vegetarian. These surveys indicate that even Indians who do eat meat, do so infrequently, with less than 30% consuming it regularly, although the reasons are mainly cultural and partially economical. A large percentage of infrequent meat eaters do so when they are eating out and would never cook in their houses. This leads to controversies when meat eaters are denied apartments where vegetarians are major occupants, often interpreted as religious discrimination.
India has devised a system of marking edible products made from only vegetarian ingredients, with a green dot in a green square. A mark of a brown dot in a brown square conveys that some animal-based ingredients were used.
Recent growth in India's organized retail has also been hit by some controversy, because some vegetarians are demanding meatless supermarkets.
One of India's largest publishers, S. Chand Group, was criticised for publishing a health textbook aimed at 11 and 12 year olds, entitled "New Healthway", which said that people who eat meat "easily cheat, lie, forget promises and commit sex crimes". In a chapter "full of inaccuracies", it described Eskimos as "lazy, sluggish and short-lived" because of their diet being based on meat. Academics commented that publication of material like this is a major problem for children, but that the Indian government has declined to act because it regards selection of textbooks as the schools' own choice.
In Australia, some manufacturers who target the vegetarian market will label their foods with the statement "suitable for vegetarians"; however, for foods intended for export to the UK, this labelling can be inconsistent because flavourings in ingredients lists do not need to specify if they come from animal origin. As such, natural flavour could be derived from either plant or animal sources.
Animal rights organisations such as Animal Liberation promote vegan and vegetarian diets. "Vegetarian Week" runs from 01 – 7 October every year, and food companies are taking advantage of the growing number of vegetarians by producing meat-free alternatives of popular dishes, including sausages and mash and Spaghetti Bolognese.
Another 2000 Newspoll survey (commissioned by Sanitarium) shows 44% of Australians report eating at least one meat-free evening meal a week, while 18% said they prefer plant-based meals.
New Zealand 
Similar to other Australasian countries such as Australia, in New Zealand the term vegetarian refers to individuals who eat no animal meat such as pork, chicken, and fish; but may still consume animal products such as milk and eggs. In contrast, the term vegan is used to describe those who do not eat any by-products of animals. In 2002 New Zealand's vegetarians made up a tiny minority, between 1-2% of the country’s 4.5 million people 
As New Zealand and Australia work together to form common food standards (as seen in the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code), there is also a lot of ambiguity surrounding the "natural flavour" ingredients.
The definition of vegetarianism throughout Europe is not uniform, creating the potential for products to be labelled inaccurately.
In October 2011, the European Vegetarian Union reported that the French government's Décret 2011-1227 and associated Arrêté (September 30, 2011) effectively outlaws the serving of vegan meals at any public or private school in France. Similar decrees are proposed for kindergartens, hospitals, prisons and retirement homes.
Studies in the 1990s showed that one million French (1.5% of the total population) called themselves vegetarians, although more recently this number has reportedly increased to 2%.
According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Germany has over six million vegetarians. A survey conducted by Institut Produkt und Markt, found that 9% of the population (7,380,000 people) are vegetarian, which the Italian research institute Eurispes reports as the second highest rate of vegetarianism in the European Union (after Italy).
The Italian research institute Eurispes reports that according to the European Vegetarian Union, Italy has over six million vegetarians and the highest rate of vegetarianism in the European Union, at 10% of the population.
Vegetarianism is fairly common in the Netherlands. A study has shown that the number of vegetarians out of a population of nearly 16.5 million people increased from 560,000 in 2004 to 720,000 in 2006. It is estimated that 4.5% of the Dutch population don't eat meat. The number of part-time vegetarians grew rapidly as well: around 3.5 million Dutch citizens abstain from eating meat a few days a week.
The sales of meat substitutes has an annual growth of around 25%, making it one of the fastest-growing markets in the Netherlands. In supermarkets and stores, it is sometimes necessary to read the fine print on products in order to make sure that there are no animal-originated ingredients. Increasingly, however, vegetarian products are labeled with the international "V-label," overseen by the Dutch vegetarian association Vegetarisch Keurmerk.
Veganism is uncommon in the Netherlands: the Dutch Association for Veganism estimates that there are approximately 16,000 vegans in the Netherlands, or around 0.1% of the Dutch population.
The Vegetarian Society of Portugal was founded c. 1908 by Amílcar de Sousa. In 2007, the number of vegetarians in Portugal was estimated at 30,000, which equates to less than 0.3% of the population. In October of 2012, this number was estimated at 200.000, being more noticeable in people aged 55 to 70.
In Spain, vegetarian restaurants and stores are rare. Some Spanish vegetarians argue that this situation is due to the fact that the Franco Regime strongly discouraged vegetarianism, which it associated with the political left. It was not until 1975 that doctors were allowed to discuss the health benefits of vegetarianism and vegetarian restaurants were permitted to do business again.
In Sweden, vegetarian most often means lacto-ovo vegetarian. Most but not all restaurants offer at least one lacto-ovo vegetarian dish.
According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Switzerland has the second highest rate of vegetarianism in the European Union (even though Switzerland is not in the EU, it was most likely included with the other EU countries for this study). Older governmental data from 1997 suggest that 2.3% of the population never eat meat and the observed trend seemed to point towards less meat consumption. Newer studies suggest that the percentage of vegetarians has risen to 5% by 2007.
United Kingdom 
In the United Kingdom, increasing numbers of people have adopted a vegetarian diet since the end of World War II. The Food Standards Agency Public Attitudes to Food survey 2009 reported that 3% of respondents were found to be "completely vegetarian", with an additional 5% "partly vegetarian (don't eat some types of fish or meat)". Some independent market studies suggest that vegetarians constitute 7% to 11% of the UK adult population (4 million people).As of 2003[update], the Vegetarian Society estimates that there are between three and four million vegetarians in the UK. There are twice as many vegetarian women as men. Despite the clear classification by the Vegetarian Society, some people in the UK wrongly identify as vegetarians while still eating fish, either for health reasons, or because of differing ethical perspectives on vegetarianism, while others use the term "flexitarian" or part-vegetarian. As of 2009, people in the UK are now also being identified with the labels "meat-avoiders" and "meat-reducers" by marketeers, denoting people who do not self-identify as vegetarians, but are reducing or avoiding meat for reasons of health or climate change impacts, with one survey identifying 23% of the population as "meat-reducers", and 10% as "meat-avoiders", although the same survey indicated the "vast majority" in the UK still eat meat, with one-in-five liking to eat meat every day. According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the UK has the third highest rate of vegetarianism in the European Union.
"Vegetarian" and "vegan" are not terms defined in law at either a UK or European level. Nonetheless, foods labelled as suitable for vegetarians or vegans are subject to provisions within the Trades Descriptions Act 1968. The Food Standards Agency issues guidance on the labelling of foods as suitable for vegetarians:
The term 'vegetarian' should not be applied to foods that are, or are made from or with the aid of, products derived from animals that have died, have been slaughtered, or animals that die as a result of being eaten. Animals means farmed, wild or domestic animals, including for example, livestock poultry, game, fish, shellfish, crustaceans, amphibians, tunicates, echinoderms, molluscs, and insects.—Food Standards Agency
In addition to voluntary labelling, the Vegetarian Society operates a scheme whereby foods that meet its criteria can be labelled "Vegetarian Society approved". Under this scheme, a product is vegetarian if it is free of meat, fowl, fish, shellfish, meat or bone stock, animal or carcass fats, gelatin, aspic, or any other ingredient resulting from slaughter, such as rennet. Cheese is often labelled as well, making it possible to identify cheeses that have been made with rennet derived from non-animal sources. Many hard cheeses in continental Europe contain rennet derived from animal sources.
The Americas 
In 2004, Marly Winckler, President of the Brazilian Vegetarian Society claimed that 5% of the population is vegetarian. According to a 2012 survey undertaken by the Brazilian Institute of Public Opinion and Statistics, 8% of the population, that is, 15.2 million people, identified themselves as vegetarian. The city of São Paulo has the most vegetarians in absolute terms (792,120 people), while Fortaleza has the highest percentage, at 14% of the total population.
Marly Winckler claims that the central reasons for the deforestation of the Amazon are expansive livestock raising (mainly cattle) and soybean crops, most of it for use as an animal feeding, and a minor percentage for edible oil processing (being direct human consumption for use as food nearly negligible), claims that are widely known to have a basis.
As in Canada, vegetarianismo (Portuguese pronunciation: [veʒiˌtaɾjɐ̃ˈnizmu]) is usually synonymous with lacto-ovo-vegetarianism and vegetarians are sometimes wrongly assumed to be pescetarians and/or pollotarians who tolerate the flesh of fish or poultry, respectively. Nevertheless, veganism, and freeganism, are very common among Brazilian anarchists, punks and members of other groups in the counterculture and/or left-wing movements. Other beliefs generally associated with Brazilian vegetarians are Eastern philosophies and religions, New Age and Spiritism, while it is also commonly said to be related to the emo and indie youth subcultures as influence from the local punks. Brazilian vegetarians reportedly tend to be urban, of middle or upper class and live in the Central-Southern half of the country. Since the 1990s, and specially over the 2000s, several vegetarian and vegan restaurants appeared in the metropolitan regions of São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Curitiba and Rio de Janeiro.
In Canada, vegetarianism is usually synonymous with ovo-lacto vegetarianism. However, vegetarians are sometimes wrongly assumed to be pescetarians or pollotarians. Approximately 4.0% of adults are vegetarians as of 2003[update].
United States 
Vegetarianism was endorsed in the United States in 1838 by the American Health Convention. In 1971, 1 percent of U.S. citizens described themselves as vegetarians. A 2013 Public Policy Polling survey found 13% of Americans identify as vegetarian (6%) or vegan (7%). A 2012 Gallup poll found 5% of Americans identify as vegetarian and 2% as vegan. A 2008 Harris Interactive poll found that 10% of adults "largely follow a vegetarian-inclined diet," with 3.2% following a vegetarian diet and 0.5% identifying as vegans. A 2000 Zogby Poll found that 2.5% of respondents reported not eating meat, poultry, or fish; while 4.5 percent reported not eating meat.
Many children [in the United States] whose parents follow vegetarian diets follow them because of religious or ethical beliefs, for animal rights, or for the environment or other reasons. In the government's first estimate of how many children avoid meat, the number is about 1 in 200. Also, the CDC survey included children ages 0 to 17 years. Possibly, older children are more likely to follow a vegetarian diet, so differences in age could explain some of the difference in results between the surveys.
U.S. vegetarian food sales (meat replacements such as soy milk and textured vegetable protein) doubled between 1998 and 2003, reaching $1.6 billion in 2003.
By U.S. law, food packaging is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and generally must be labeled with a list of all its ingredients. However, there are exceptions. For example, certain trace ingredients that are "ingredients of ingredients" do not need to be listed.
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