Fickle ‘Vegetarians’ – Two Fifths Return To Eating Meat Within A Month

It seems that the majority of dieters are fickle in nature, as 74% of them struggle to stick to one for more than four weeks according to a new study; whilst two fifths of those who have tried to become vegetarian admitted going back to eating meat again ‘within a month’.


The study, conducted by, polled 1,984 UK men and women aged over 18 as part of ongoing research into the fickle nature of people. The study specifically focussed on eating habits, and people’s experiences of changing their eating habits.


Respondents were initially asked, ‘Have ever followed new food fads or specific diets and failed to stick to them in the long-term?’ to which 59% of respondents said that ‘yes’ they had done so at some stage in the past.


The study then asked respondents to name the diets/food fads that they had undertaken in the past, which revealed the ‘Atkins diet’ to be number one with 34% of people saying they had followed it at some stage, followed by the ‘Dukan diet’ with 24% of respondents having tried it. ‘Vegetarianism’ came in third, with 23% of respondents saying that they had attempted to give up meat at some stage.


Those that had tried vegetarianism were questioned further by the study as they were asked, ‘What were your main reasons for becoming a vegetarian?’ and allowed respondents to select more than one answer. Answers revealed a ‘love of animals’ to be number one at 53%, as people wished to ‘avoid eating animals’; whilst 43% thought it would help to ‘reduce their weight’ if they gave up meat. However, the third most common response, at 32%, was because they ‘thought vegetarianism was fashionable’. 16% believed it made them ‘look like a nicer person’.


When asked, ‘How long did you stick to vegetarianism?’ just 18% said that they had stuck to it for ‘a prolonged period (more than a year)’. 25% said they ‘lasted a few months’, whilst two fifths, 38%, said that they ‘didn’t even last a month’ before going back to eating meat.


As part of the wider study, all respondents were asked, ‘What are your main reasons for attempting new dietary initiatives?’, allowing respondents to select more than one option if more than one applied. ‘Weight loss’ was revealed to be the main reason amongst respondents at 72%, followed by ‘general health and wellbeing’ (54%) and then ‘the influence of friends’ (33%) as the third biggest factor.


The average length of time that people tended to stick to a new dietary plan was also looked at, as the study asked, ‘How long do you tend to stick to new diets?’ which revealed the following responses:


  • Usually no more than a week – 12%
  • Two weeks – 14%
  • Three weeks 22%
  • A month – 26%
  • A few months – 17%
  • Indefinitely – 9%


The main reasons for stopping were then investigated by the study, as respondents were asked to select from a list of potential options and allowed to select more than one answer if more than one applied, which revealed the following top five main reasons for failing to stick to new diet regimes:


  1. Lack of willpower – 63%
  2. Doesn’t fit in with daily routine – 51%
  3. Loss of interest – 46%
  4. Not seeing enough noticeable effect – 38%
  5. Friends stopping doing it – 35%


David Wain-Heapy, co-founder of, had the following comment to make:


“The majority of us have probably tried to undertake a new diet or the latest food fad at some stage or other. It’s often the case that if a number of our friends or perhaps work colleagues are talking about it then we’re keen to get involved. However, it seems this initial enthusiasm soon fades.”


He continued:


“The results around vegetarianism are surprising though. You would like to think that the majority of vegetarians undertake it as a point of principle, rather than in a bid to look fashionable. It just goes to show though that people change their minds and habits on a regular basis and often at a whim!”