Vegetarianism in the careers service

15 May

Where did that come from? Well it is National Vegetarian Week, 18th-24th May (for events see here). At the same time, as a recent returner to vegetarianism, I’ve been enjoying recent news stories about Ghent advocating a once a week meat-free day to reduce their carbon footprint. Which reminded me to finally investigate my observation that the careers services seemed to have an abnormally high number of vegetarians.

Soon after starting at The Careers Group, I learnt that out of the eight staff in our room, there were five vegetarians (63%). When the Christmas party rolled around, I had the perfect opportunity to check a bigger sample, as everyone logged their attendance and food preferences on the staff wiki (and that’s as web 2.0 as it’s going to get for this post…).

  • Out of 80 attendees, there were 15 vegetarians. That is 19%!
  • Of our male staff, 9% are vegetarian.
  • Of the female staff, 26% are vegetarian.

It sounds high, but how does that actually compare to the nation as a whole? In 2000-01*, the Office of National Statistics did a survey, which revealed:

● One in twenty respondents, 5%, reported being vegetarian or vegan.
● Women were more likely than men to report being vegetarian/vegan (7% of women
overall compared with 2% of men).
● About 11% of younger women aged 19 to 34 years reported being vegetarian or
vegan.

ONS – The National Diet & Nutrition Survey: adults aged 19 to 64 years, Vol. 5, 2004

Considering that the attendees were 71% female, and a large proportion of these fit into the 19-34 bracket, then you would expect the overall average to be higher than the national average of 5%, however our statistics exceed all the groups in the breakdown.

Why is this? Perhaps it is down to the sort of person who seeks out a career helping and advising students. We attract caring, sharing, let’s hug a tree types. Perhaps.

Anyone care to share if their careers service is similar? I’m sure I have noticed strong representation around the vegetarian sandwich trays at training courses…

* While these stats are from 2000-1, The Vegetarian Society has a list of survey results from the Food Standards Agency and others since 2000, which give similar quite stable figures. I had difficulty sourcing these reports quickly, so stuck with the ONS figures and the useful gender breakdown.

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