Vegetarianism has been around for ages. Much of the vegetarian propaganda revolves around the aim of stopping cruelty to animals, it's one of the stated goals of the movement, if not the main one.

Some examples of such claims::

The average meat-eater consumes over 100 animals every year (or 270.0 pounds total). That means your decreasing the demand for slaughtered animals by 100 a year. Since about 7.3 million Americans are vegetarian, together we decrease the demand of animals slaughtered every year by 730 million (2 billion pounds of meat!)

(Yahoo Answers)

A vegetarian saves more than 30 land animals each year.


By switching to a vegetarian diet, you can save more than 100 animals a year from this misery.


These quotes suggest, directly or indirectly, that people who do not eat meat have an impact on the number of slaughtered animals. Is there any evidence that the various herbivore movements have actually made any dent in the slaughter of animals in the food industry? Given their numbers and the time that they've been around, it would be reasonable to expect a visible effect by now.

Evidence is available of significant increase in meat-free sales. It's reasonable to expect a proportionate decrease in meat-based sales then, and a corresponding decrease in slaughter. Is there any evidence to the latter?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Sklivvz Sep 15 '14 at 9:29

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    According to the FAQ, Skeptics.SE is for researching the evidence behind the claims you hear or read. This question doesn't appear to have any doubtful claims to investigate. Please edit it to reference a notable claim and flag for moderator attention to re-open (or get 5 re-open votes). – Oddthinking Sep 12 '14 at 17:36
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    It still seems a big stretch. No one is saying it makes a measurable difference (which is what would represent evidence here). However, certainly even one vegetarian represents less meat sold overall (all things being equal), thus less money in the meat industry -- of course if everyone else starts eating double meat, then you wouldn't see a decline, but that's not what is being claimed here, I think. – Sklivvz Sep 12 '14 at 18:30
  • 3 reasons I downvoted this question: 1/ Talking about “propaganda” does not help the objectivity of the question and the answers. 2/ How could you precisely isolate the effect of vegetarianism on the increase or decrease of animal slaughtering? 3/ I don’t see any reason to doubt the decreasing of animal slaughtering if everyone becomes vegetarian. – Einenlum Sep 12 '14 at 20:12
  • @Einenlum 1 - What's wrong with "propaganda" exactly? 2 - With enough data you can do a lot of different analyses, I can think of a few ways. 3 - Neither do I, but that's completely beside the point. The question was about demonstratable effect. – Vitaly Mijiritsky Sep 12 '14 at 20:38
  • Thanks for the edits, but I am still unhappy with the cites. None of them are of the form of the question - i.e. someone saying "Vegetarianism HAS increased/increased per capita and (as a result) the number of animals slaughtered for food HAS decreased/decreased per capita." The claims are all of the form "Simple market economics suggests that if we reduce demand (for meat), producers will stop producing (slaughtering)." – Oddthinking Sep 13 '14 at 4:08

Considering the dramatic rise of meat consumption by the non-vegitarians I don't think the rather small percentage of vegitarians can make much of an impact as such.

"Meat production and consumption in the industrialized world have radically increased since 1950. /../ In the U.S. there has been a 9% drop in consumption from 2007 to 2012 thanks to trendy low-meat diets and growing concern from customers over where meat comes from." http://www.businessinsider.com/how-we-eat-meat-around-the-world-2014-1

"Between 1961 and 2002, meat consumption has seen a large increase virtually worldwide. /../ The US and the UK are among the few countries whose meat consumption levels have remained relatively stable." http://www.theguardian.com/environment/datablog/2009/sep/02/meat-consumption-per-capita-climate-change

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