Fish-eating (and vegetarian statistics) in Japan

Do you like eating fish? graph of japanese statisticsAlthough the topic of this survey from DIMSDRIVE Research Inc was fish, the most interesting figure for me was some data to allow me to estimate the number of vegetarians in Japan.


Between the 1st and 16th of Octoer 2008 9,524 members of the DIMSDRIVE monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 50.5% of the sample were male, 1.3% in their teens, 13.7% in their twenties, 34.% in their thirties, 31.2% in their forties, 14.5% in their fifties, and 5.1% aged sixty or older.

The vegetarian numbers can be derived from first noticing that 0.7% don’t eat fish according to Q2, then 2.7% of these 0.7% say they don’t eat fish because they are vegetarians, meaning that a whole 8 people from the original 9,524, or 0.08% of the sample, which makes a mere 10,000 vegetarians in the whole of Japan! Of course, monks would inflate the figures, although note that the average local priest is not averse to even grilled beef!

Note that here fish refers to fish only, not other beasts of the sea like octopus, squid, prawns, shellfish, or indeed whale.

Buddhist priests favourite grilled beef

“What!”, I hear you cry, “aren’t all Buddhist priests supposed to be vegetarians?” The key word is of course supposed. The original Buddha, Shakyamuni, apparently was not, as is popularly believed, vegetarian, but instead just forbade people who would offer him food from killing an animal on his behalf. If he visited a family with a mutton curry in the pot, he would eat it if offered, or so it is recorded.

However, the various schools have adopted their own particular set of rules for their monks and priests, and most do (presumably) prescribe a vegetarian diet. And no alcohol of course.

Bearing this in mind, Triva no Izumi (Fount of Trivia) decided to ask 100 meat-eating priests what their favourite kind of 焼肉, yakiniku, grilled meat, beef in particular, was. What percentage of the total number of priests asked admitted to meat-eating is sadly not recorded. I have also previously translated another survey on the general population’s favourite grilled meat.