SF Vegans Are More Loud than Numerous

Categories: SFoodie

Marin Sun Farms
San Franciscans as a whole prefer meat to vegetables
​We hear from vegans all the time at SFoodie, often at great length, not least because we run Laura Beck's delightfully profane Week in Vegan column. But we've always wondered how important they really are.

Not very, it turns out.

I was stunned by a poll last week that showed San Francisco, with just 3 percent vegans and vegetarians, has fewer per capita than Dallas, Tampa and Atlanta. So I decided to recreate the same poll on our site.

There was one inadvertent difference, for which I apologize. I tried to set up the third-party polling software to allow you to choose more than one of the eight categories, as LivingSocial's poll did, but apparently it didn't work. Our categories were the same, but you could choose only one.

Vegans and vegetarians told all their friends to vote; we saw some of the messages. And they did rock our vote -- to the still-unimpressive total of 6.96 percent.

Now, media is a business like any other, and nearly 1 in 14 readers is not insignificant. Vegans matter, for sure. Just not as much as they think they do.

The top category for our readers is the rather generic "foodie," with 26.37 percent. I'd wager that it would actually be higher -- maybe above 90 percent -- if some people aren't tired of that overly broad term. I get email or comments from hundreds of you, at least 26.37 percent of it uninsulting, and I think I can safely say that the only thing that unites us is that we all care deeply about food.

If it makes vegans feel better, "meat lover" did significantly worse in our poll -- 10.99 percent -- than it did in LivingSocial's, where it topped the table at 41 percent.

I'm really not surprised to see that "fast food junkies" make up only 1.1 percent of our audience, compared to 23 percent of LivingSocial's. I personally picked "locavore," and that finished second behind "foodie," at 15.38 percent. This feels like validation because we try to make SFoodie a site that focuses on local food products and purveyors; I'm glad to know that's important to you.

You can see the rest of the results, like the fact that we have more "sweet tooths" (teeth?) than "health nuts," here. Read 'em and weep, vegans. You can keep writing 500-word comments, but changing your Internet nickname for each one won't fool me.

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I don't call myself a vegan but I'd eat a hairball out of locker room drain before drinking dairy or eating meat. ....tons of people dont eat meat or rarely eat dairy or eggs, etc., but dont call themselves vegetarian or vegan.   


"I admit my poll didn't make sense, but I'm going to extrapolate data from it anyway. Suck on that." -This dude


i never saw the poll, so i didn't vote. i'm vegan! also, 7% is pretty impressive. way higher than the 1% people are always telling us we are.


I didn't see any vegans telling anyone to vote and I'm pretty plugged in! I didn't even know there was a poll!? Bring back the poll, we will rock the shit out of it. Also, how many people voted in total?

I think most vegans know that we don't matter very much. We live in a world with constant bombardment of a EAT MEAT! DRINK MILK! message, so no matter how vocal vegans are, we can't even begin to combat the billions of dollars that animal agriculture spends peddling their bullshit. If you think vegans are more vocal than any other type of eater, I'm gonna have to say nuts to that, as well. I can't tell you how many comments we get on Vegansaurus that are just, "MEAT RULES!!!" Actually, I can go back and count... it looks like about 70 in just this past year. And we're not even that popular!

And don't even get me started on the word foodie, or I'll look like even more of an asshole. But really, I wonder how many SF dwelling meat mouths sat in front of the poll REALLY thinking about whether to classify themselves as a foodie or a locavore? That's one statistic* I'd be interested in learning!

And that's how I see it! (222 Words, BAM!)

*But, of course, none of these are real statistics. Oh, internet!


Well said, Laura!

I never heard of this "poll" either, and being a major local activist for animals (founder of www.LGBTcompassion.org), I'm pretty plugged in as well. But to be honest, the only time I or anyone I know ever read SFWeekly is when they write about us!

It's also curious to me that this author takes such juvenile delight in putting vegans in our place. Unless someone has internalized issues with the cruelty, environmental destruction (yes, even with "local" foods, which may end up using more resources to transport due to their smaller, less efficient loads, or to grow off-season), and human rights violations inherent with producing the animal-sourced foods that they "desire," they should not care at all if others choose lifestyles causing less harm, and should even be supportive.

In the meantime, whether we're 1% or 10% of the local population, we will keep working to inform people of the many benefits of a vegan lifestyle, and to protect animals and the environment from abuse. It's clear that the number of vegans and vegan-friendly businesses here are increasing, and it's not going to stop!

W Blake Gray
W Blake Gray

All I need to know, Andrew is that you write this: "But to be honest, the only time I or anyone I know ever read SFWeekly is when they write about us!"

Before going on to your next sentence, would that qualify as "putting us in our place"?

This was a reader poll, so you and everyone you know apparently don't count. We don't plan our coverage for people who only read us when we write about them.

W Blake Gray
W Blake Gray

I wasn't interested in getting your advocacy groups to distort the poll's numbers.

At the end of each post we list a link where you can follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. If you're interested in what we write, you could do that.

As it is, I'm feeling pretty good about the fact that we run Week in Vegan. Show me non-advocacy local publications that give your small, vocal group better coverage than that.


Exactly. A poll of only SFoodie readers is not representative of the general population, only of the self-described "foodies" - as you point out. Though "foodie" is not really a defined term, when I see it, I always hear in my head the ever-so-thoughtful response, "but it tastes good!"

As for your claim that "San Franciscans as a whole prefer meat to vegetables" (apparently based on the survey of only your readers, not all San Franciscans), I think if you looked at the diets of your readers, you would see that plant-sourced foods provide the majority of their diets. Very few people eat mostly meat, and if they do, they are facing some serious health problems...

It would be nice to see some deeper exploration into this issue - perhaps research the serious issues that compel people toward plant-based diets, present those to your readers, and see how they feel about them?

And do us a favor - post to the many vegan and animal advocacy networks to let us know to vote next time! We'll get that 7% up to 20%!


I'm pretty sure omnivory has been consistent with all of human history, not just a recent phenomenon created by an agricultural lobby PR campaign.

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