Veganism is a way for decently educated but lower income people to distinguishThe GSS only probes veganism/vegetarianism (v/v) in a single question posed in 1993 and again in 1994. Respondents were asked how regularly they refuse to eat meat for environmental reasons. I suspect the typical human herbivore's primary motivation for avoiding eating flesh is something other than environmentalism (ie, deontological concerns about animal rights, health or fitness, frugality, etc), but many, and perhaps most, non-meat eaters would probably include it among a host of reasons they abstain if it was suggested to them as a potential reason by somebody else. In any case, to the extent that the framing of the question skews the v/v population, it must be in the SWPL direction.
themselves from proles. If you're a teacher or an occupational therapist or a social worker making $50K a year being vegan makes a statement that you're not a
prole despite the fact that many proles earn more money than you do. Veganism can even be a way for an academic or professional in the $100K realm to make a statement that they're superior to the frat boys who went to B school and are now pulling down $300K as sales reps. I wonder how many vegans there are among the overclass? My sense is not that many.
Despite this, v/vers are not the most vulpine swine in the barnyard. IQ estimates, converted from wordsum scores under the assumption that the mean white result corresponds to an IQ of 100 with a standard deviation of 15, by how often respondents aged 26 and older* refuse to eat meat (thus "always" identifies v/vers; n = 1583):
The sample size for herbivores is pretty small (42), but the gap between those who always avoid meat for environmental reasons and those who never do is not miniscule.
The above might not be particularly surprising (though it was not what I expected to find). However, in conjunction with the following table showing meat avoidance by mean years of education for those aged 26+, it is quite remarkable:
As far as I am able to recall, this is the only variable for which educational attainment and intelligence trend in opposite directions.
The GSS does not allow for a satisfactory gauging of economic status. However, as measured by personal income, omnivores--who are relatively less educated--have a marginal edge in earning power over herbivores.
Consequently, I have nothing to add to Peter's apt commentary other than to chime in that Edna Krabappel would serve as a more representative vegetarian than Lisa does.
GSS variables used: WORDSUM, EDUC, AGE(26-89), NOMEAT, REALRINC
* Those under 26 are excluded so students still accumulating years of education do not skew the results of the second table.