Vegetarianism is growing in the United States. According to a new survey by the Vegetarian Resource Group in Baltimore, Md., 3 percent of the U.S. population are vegetarians, and more than half of them claim to be vegans. Vegans avoid all animal products, including meat, eggs, milk, honey, leather and so forth.

This survey is conducted every three years. In 2000, 2.5 percent of those polled said they don’t consume any meat, poultry, fish or seafood.

Using U.S. census figures, VRG estimates as many as 5.7 million American adults are vegetarians, with about 2.4 million of them claiming to be vegans.

These numbers are positive for natural- and organic-food marketers, who cater to vegetarian alternatives. This also should be a wake-up call for the meat industry to be aware of this growing trend, and to market the health aspects of eating meat.