WHAT DO AMERICAN ADULTS EXPECT FROM A BEVERAGE LABELED SOYMILK? QUESTIONS ASKED BY THE VEGETARIAN RESOURCE GROUP IN A NATIONAL POLL

VRG asked the following in a
national Harris Poll. See: vrg.org/blog/2020/08/07/how-many-adults-in-the-u-s-are-vegan-how-many-adults-eat-vegetarian-when-eating-out-asks-the-vegetarian-resource-group-in-a-national-poll/

Which of the following, if any, best describes your
eating behavior?

  • I never eat meat, fish, seafood, poultry, dairy, or eggs.
  • I never eat meat, fish, seafood, or poultry.
  • I never eat meat, fish, seafood, poultry, dairy, or eggs when eating out or getting takeout, but eat one or more of these foods at home.
  • I never eat meat, fish, seafood, or poultry when eating out or getting takeout, but eat one or more of these foods at home.
  • When eating out or getting takeout, I sometimes eat meals without meat, fish, poultry, dairy, or eggs.
  • When eating out or getting takeout, I sometimes eat meals without meat, fish, or poultry.
  • None of these.

We considered those that
never eat meat, fish, seafood, or poultry; plus those that never eat meat,
fish, seafood, poultry, dairy, or eggs, as vegetarian. We classified that
second category of vegetarians who don’t eat dairy or eggs also as vegan.
Because we use the word “never” and don’t just ask if a person considers
him/herself vegetarian, our numbers may be lower than others. Be wary of
comparing to polls in other countries that ask if you are vegetarian or vegan,
since people may self define differently. We did not ask about honey.

     More than half of the U.S. adult
population (54%) always or sometimes eats vegetarian (including vegan) meals
when eating out. One fourth (25%) of U.S. adults always or sometimes eats vegan
meals when eating out. Six percent of American adults are vegetarian (including
vegans) all the time, and half of the vegetarians are also vegan (three percent
of American adults).

We asked the following
additional question, which may be of interest to food companies, food services,
restaurants, marketers, researchers, students, government regulators, and the
media.

BEVERAGES LABELED SOYMILK

Which of the following do you
expect from a beverage labeled soymilk? Please select all that apply.

If a beverage is labeled soymilk I expect:

                                         TOTAL                        VEGETARIANS                                            RESPONDENTS           (INCLUDES VEGANS)

-To be able to use it in a similar way     43%                             53%

on cereal as cow’s milk 

-To be able to use it in a similar way     38%                             41%

in cooking as cow’s milk

-It to have the exact same amount         22%                             20%

of Vitamin D as cow’s milk.

-It to have the exact same amount         21%                             15%

of calcium as cow’s milk.

-To have the same allergic reaction    10%                             13%

or lack of allergic reaction

as I might have to cow’s milk

-It to have milk from a cow                    8%                               8%

-None of these                                      23%                             15%

Some groups believe that
plant milks should not be labeled milk, as people will confuse these items with
cow’s milk. However, according to the survey, only 8% of American adults say if
a beverage is labeled soy milk they expect it to have milk from a cow.  

Seven percent of individuals
with a high school education expected soy milk to have milk from a cow, 8% with
some college education expected this, and 9% of college grads expected soy milk
to have milk from cow. Education does not seem to have much impact.

As about half of vegetarians
(including vegans) (53%) expect that a beverage labeled soy milk can be used in
a similar way on cereal as cow’s milk, calling this item a milk could be
helpful to the consumer. However, as some vegetarians (including vegans) expect
soy milk to have the same amount of calcium (15%) and vitamin D (20%) as cow’s
milk, this suggests clear nutrition labeling of all food products is important.

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of The Vegetarian Resource Group from June 22-24, 2020 among 2,074 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For survey methodology, please contact [email protected]. Please note that this poll was taken during the Covid-19 pandemic. We do not know what influence, if any, that may have had on the survey answers. See: https://www.vrg.org/nutshell/faq.htm#poll  for more poll information.