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Used vegetarian diet, past 12 months

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For sample adults in 2002, 2007 and 2012 who had ever used a vegetarian diet for two weeks or more for health reasons (DITVEGEV) and for sample children in 2007 and 2012, DITVEGYR reports whether the person had used a vegetarian diet for two weeks or more for health reasons in the past 12 months.

Special diets--including vegetarian, Ornish, Zone, Atkins, macrobiotic, Pritikin, and South Beach diets--were one of many alternative health treatment modalities included in the Complementary and Alternative Health Supplements. If sample adults gave a positive response to DITVEGYR, they were asked a series of follow-up questions. In addition, both sample children (2007 and 2012) and sample adults (2002, 2007 and 2012) who had used any of the specified special diets in the past 12 months were asked whether the diets were used to treat a specific medical condition and, if so, what that condition was. To learn more about these variables, please use the IPUMS NHIS drop-down menus and search function.


The 2002, 2007 and 2012 Field Representative's Manuals provide identical definitions of vegetarian diets. They define such diets as:

those totally devoid of meat, red or white. There are, however, numerous variations on the non-meat theme. For example, some vegetarian diets are restricted to plant products only, while others may include eggs and dairy products. Another variation limits consumption to raw fruit, sometimes supplemented with nuts and vegetables. Finally, a number of vegetarian diets prohibit alcohol, sugar, caffeine, or processed foods.

In 2002, this definition was not routinely shared with respondents. However, in 2007 and 2012, field representatives were advised to "feel free to offer [this definition] even if the respondent has not requested [it]."


In 2007, sample children were added to the universe for this question. In 2007 only, the sample child universe was not restricted by if the sample child had ever used vegetarian diet (DITVEGEV). Because of this expanded universe, the number of negative responses for DITVEGYR is much higher in 2007. Otherwise, there are no comparability issues.


  • 2002: Sample adults age 18+ who have used a vegetarian diet for two weeks or more for health reasons.
  • 2007: Sample adults age 18+ and sample children under 18 who have ever used a vegetarian diet.
  • 2012: Sample adults age 18+ and sample children of ages 4-17 who have ever used a vegetarian diet.


  • 2002, 2007, 2012