8 Benefits of Showering with Your Spouse

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If the thought of showering with your spouse instantly leaves you thinking “no way!” then you may want to think again. Sudsing up with your mate has several benefits, and no, it’s not just about increasing sexual desire (although that’s certainly on the list). See for yourself why showering together is good on many fronts.

1. Boosts romance

Plain and simple, the shower is ideal for setting a romantic mood. The feeling of warm water and the pleasant scents of body washes and soaps creates a wonderful sensory experience. Add to that the close proximity of each other’s bodies and one thing can very easily lead to another. For example, instead of hurrying through your shower or focusing only on cleansing yourself while you’re in there together, consider gently caressing your spouse’s body with a soapy sponge and let your imaginations go from there.

2. Saves water

The U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Water Science School estimates that older showers without water-saving shower heads use about five gallons of water every minute, while ones with water-saving heads use approximately two gallons each minute. Averages indicate that men tend to take a nine-minute shower, while women surpass that by another 30 seconds. So, doing some basic math using this timeframe and assuming you’re using a water-saving shower head, you’re looking at 18 ½ minutes of shower time if you shower individually. At about two gallons of water used per minute in this particular example, that’s 37 gallons of water.

Now, imagine both of you showering at the same time where you simply wash and rinse (sorry, lingering and romantic moments not included). The 37 gallons can easily be reduced, which is good for water conservation. And it’s easy; while your spouse lathers up, wet your body under the stream of water in preparation for cleansing. Then, simply trade places; lather up while your soapy spouse rinses. You might find that your total showering time together is just over the average for one person.

3. Keeps your health in check

Although experts suggest inspecting our bodies to check for changes on a regular basis, not many of us take the time to break out a full length mirror and get to it. In the shower, close contact allows your spouse can observe things on your body that you might not easily notice on yourself. Changes in moles or the appearance of new ones, skin discolorations and rashes are some examples that could be hiding in spots like behind your knees or the middle of your back. Also, in the case of washing and touching one another, lumps or knots under the skin may be detected.

4. Fosters better communication

With nothing but a shower curtain and some steamy walls around you, you’ll likely feel more at ease when talking. While it’s not necessarily the time to bring up the topic of wanting to move to another state or make a major career change (imagine how much water that would take up!), it’s the perfect place to touch on how your day went, discuss weekend plans or bring closure to a silly argument from the night before. Sometimes, a simple change in atmosphere is all it takes to enhance communication.

5. Relieves stress

The shower helps you and your spouse enjoy quiet time so you can erase the day’s stress. Surrounded by warm, cascading water, nice scents and each other’s company, who wants to think about traffic or a particularly challenging day at work? In the shower, you can both create a private escape right in your own home; hop in the shower and don’t give bothersome events a second thought.

6. Helps you multitask

In today’s busy times, taking a shower together is something many couples opt to do in order to save time. Romance and lingering aside, if a couple simply washes and rinses together then they free up time to focus on activities that may require input or physical assistance from the other. Changing the sheets, cooking, sorting out bills and coordinating calendars are a few examples.

7. Develops your sense of humor

According to a neuroscientist who studied the effects of laughter across a variety of couples, humor is essential in fostering bonds and diffusing anger. It can allow couples to gain insight into each other’s thoughts, ease stress and strengthen a weakening relationship.

The shower is environment where all kinds of laughter can unfold if you allow yourselves to get silly together. Let some of your childlike qualities surface; considering soaping up your hair then using your hands to make a funny-looking Mohawk on your head, or using the shampoo bottle as a “microphone” while you do a naked newscast in your best serious announcer voice. Use your imagination and get some laughs going. They may also lead to some great inside jokes in the weeks to come, creating a special, private bond.

8. Increases confidence

There’s nothing like standing naked in front of your spouse to get rid of any body-consciousness you have—you can’t cover up, bolt away and hide behind a half-opened door or dart off into the next room. When you shower together, you’re both working towards getting rid of whatever body insecurities you have by showing each other your real selves—scars, stubble, stretch marks, bellies and all.

At the same time, it’s a great moment to showcase what makes you feel confident. For example, if you’re proud of your biceps or the fact that you lost weight, it’s a fun time to show off the new and improved you and boost your confidence as a result!

So go ahead and start showering with your spouse. You’ll save water, share some laughs, make sure your health is in a good place and who knows—maybe the next stop will be your bedroom. What’s to lose?

Soap is Ruining Your Skin

 

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How much money have you spent on soaps, moisturizers, serums and masques emblazoned with the word “hydrating”? Odds are that you’re using up tubes and bottles of lotion, trying to replace lost moisture on a daily basis. Love that squeaky-clean feeling after washing your face with soap? Not only is it clean, but your skin is thirsty! It’s your largest organ, but it needn’t be your biggest problem anymore.

It can be perplexing, I understand. We are inundated with ads for skincare lines touting miracle effects in a jar. In the end, you most likely don’t have “problem” skin—you’re simply washing it too much. As a licensed esthetician, I’ve treated clients over the past five years with a myriad of skin concerns and issues including rise early and eczema. One of the most prominent complaints is dry, itchy, lackluster skin. Time and time again, the culprit is harsh chemicals and fillers found in face and body wash products.

Nowadays, many soaps are made with all natural, soothing ingredients. What if they’re added to replace what you’re washing away to begin with? Oil isn’t the problem—aggravating our epidermis with chemicals and over-washing it are the problems.

Break the cycle

It’s hard to cut out habits you’re used to in the realm of skincare. Soaps labelled “oil free” and “anti-acne” generally leave skin dehydrated. This actually stimulates the body, sending the message “hey, create more oil!” This in turn causes shininess, then you start scrubbing it all away again. It’s a vicious cycle. Many of us have been trained to use such cleansers since our teen years. Simply set them aside for thirty days and let your skin normalize. I guarantee you won’t go back to soap after seeing your new, healthy glow. Breaking any pattern can be a challenge at first, but simply swapping out toxic, drying products for simple, natural, household ingredients will yield great benefits.

Cool down, while you’re at it

A nice hot, soapy shower certainly feels amazing in the winter months, or after a challenging workout. However, lowering the temperature of your next shower is a great way to help your skin feel and look better. I know someone who takes a 60 minute hot shower every day; their skin is like leather. A nice lukewarm shower will do the trick, and keep it brief. Cooler water is better for your hair, too, particularly if you color it. Hot water can dry out your skin, hence the need for loading up on post-shower moisturizers, so just cool it down. I also recommend staving off dehydration by drinking a glass of water before you hop into the shower.

Isn’t it gross?

We are conditioned to think that extra clean is better and for most things, this is true. For example, it’s true of the floors in your home, your car, dishes and windows. However, I had an esthetics instructor who said “It’s a face, not a dish!” She used this simple comment to remind her students that our skin is an organ and shouldn’t be washed like a household item. Try swapping out your usual soaps for a little oil and fruit. Your face doesn’t get as dirty as your kitchen floor, so please stop washing it that way. There’s nothing gross about cleaning your face with the same beautiful, organic produce you’re eating.

Try this instead

Wet your hands, then emulsify a pinch of baking soda and a tablespoon of nut or olive oil. Spread it over your face using gentle, circular strokes. Add a little more water if it’s too thick or not spreading easily. I use straight coconut oil to wash my face every day, adding a little baking soda every four to five days. I don’t use a moisturizer, as there’s a nice healthy residue left after I gently massage the oil off with a warm, wet cloth. Mashing a chunk of a banana then adding a teaspoon of honey creates a hydrating fruit acid masque. Apply that once or twice a month to dry, dehydrated skin and you’ll see results right away. Considering that bananas are generally about forty cents apiece, this approach is a lot less expensive than a store bought treatment.

Less is more

According to the National Eczema Association “In order to prevent […] eczema flare-ups from appearing, you need to soak in water to hydrate, reduce microbes with bleach or soap-free cleansers.” Soap-free is the key phrase here. Take a look at your elbows and knees. Do you have dry, flaky skin there? Don’t run out to buy a bunch of ointment and medicated creams, as they’re loaded with fillers and chemicals. Instead, try massaging a bit of plain olive or coconut oil into these areas, then gently remove with a warm, wet cloth, using circular motions. Do this instead of scrubbing yourself raw then slathering on a ton of lotion. Two steps just became one; you’re saving time and money, and you look and feel better.

New Study Says People Think Better of You When You Wear Black

Beautiful-Girl-Black-DressBesides the fact that Jay Z thinks it’s cool, turns out wearing black clothing also makes other people think you’re cool. A survey done by UK retailer buy t-shirts online asked 1,000 people how they perceive others based on the color of clothing they wear. Turns out, if you want to come across as confident, intelligent or sexy, you should bet on black.

A staggering 56% of people surveyed said that they see people who wear black as confident. The rates were particularly high for men, 64% of whom selected black as their choice color. 48% of women agreed. In fact, black came in first or second for a lot of the positive traits mentioned in the survey. Following black, red and blue came in as the second and third most confident colors – good to know in case your LBD is stuck at the dry cleaners and you need alternatives.

Red was the color most associated with arrogance, so the color clearly has a lot of different connotations, depending on who you ask. Pink was the color most associated with a lack of intelligence, with only 5% of people asked linking the color to braininess. Sorry Barbie.

But overall, if you’re trying to impress people with your attire, your best option seems to be black, as “black came first or second in most ‘good’ traits (for example confidence, intelligence and sexiness) and barely figured in the “bad” traits (arrogance).” So forget doom and gloom: black has a new connotation and it’s all good.

Our Presence, not Presents, Matters Most

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Depending on your faith tradition, you have likely just wound up the gift-giving winter holidays or are finally in the home stretch.

Each year, the months-long build-up to these important celebrations seems to instill hope that this time we can get it “right.”

We feel compelled to turn sacred, intimate moments into flawless staged productions.

Pinterest boards, Facebook, and Amazon.com have clearly conspired to create an “ad hoc commercialization collaborative” that compels us to stage the moment, not live in the moment.

Finding the “perfect” recipe, craft, or gift idea on Pinterest may lead to a few more mouse clicks so that Amazon can deliver the now essential supplies for your holiday perfection. Overnight shipping seems worth its cost if it means folks’ smiles will be a little broader as they feast at your table or unwrap their gifts.

Unfortunately, you are still likely to find yourself desperately photo-shopping pictures and cropping out the lumps, bumps, or other shortcomings of your masterpiece or the messy kitchen counter in the background.

Hey, it’s the holidays! No effort or expense is too much to spare to make those moments perfect, right?

Nope, that’s wrong.

Perhaps we need a rule of thumb in life – at the holidays and throughout the year.

If you find yourself spending increasingly more time each holiday photo-shopping images of your bickering relatives, cranky children, wailing infants, or impatient spouses, just to make a photo Facebook-worthy, maybe you need to put down the phone and “crop yourself” back into to the events going on around you.

Staging your life – at the holidays or beyond – will never bring the lasting joy that just “living your life” can provide.

Men should marry young, smart women, say scientists

Men should marry a woman who is cleverer than they are and at least five years younger, if they want the relationship to stand the best chance of lasting, according to new research.

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Scientists tracked 1,000 couples who were either married or in serious relationships over five years and then looked for patterns among those who were still together.

They found that neither should have been divorced in the past, the man should be five or more years older and the woman should have received more education than the man.

The academics’ report, published in the European Journal of Operational Research, did say that men and women choose partners “on the basis of love, physical attraction, similarity of taste, beliefs and attitudes, and shared values”.

But it added that using “objective factors” such as age, education and cultural origin “may help reduce divorce”.

Their research suggests marital bliss for pop star Beyoncé Knowles, 33, and her husband, the rap mogul Jay-Z, who is 11 years older at 44. She is also better educated as he did not receive a high school diploma.

However while Michael Douglas, 70, is considerably older than his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, 45, the fact that he was previously divorced would count against them, the findings suggest.

The scientists, including Dr Emmanuel Fragniere of the University of Bath, found that a previous divorce lessened the chances of a relationship surviving, but this was less marked when both partners had been divorced before.

The 5 Reasons Women Love And Deserve Flowers

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Guys, don’t try to fool yourselves into believing we don’t really like flowers, since they die anyway and all. We like them despite that — trust me.  Some of us may drop hints that allude to gifts being no huge deal, but here’s a tip: the hints are an act. We care.

Yes, we do like to be spoiled sometimes and no, the gifts don’t always need to be tangible. But seriously, aside from the I-don’t-need-these-things-to-feel-beautiful women, one cannot deny the role that flowers play in the picture. Here’s why:

1. We like that they’re “pointless.”

Some guys think that giving flowers is pointless because the flowers will eventually die. Well, guess what? That’s actually the part that we love.

Though we love the idea of a forever kind of love, we still like the idea that you can give us something ephemeral and exciting. Even if it seems that your money is being put to waste, it’s nice to know you spent it on something that will yield a guaranteed smile from us.


2. We think they reflect who we are.

Call it shallow, but many women believe that flowers reflect who we are. If you buy obviously cheap flowers, then we may believe you believe we’re cheap. We don’t need to receive flowers daily, so on the special occasions when you take the floral plunge, buy the best, freshest, most fragrant arrangement. It’s a really great way to flatter your lady.


3. We like how they stop time for a moment.

I know it may seem unproductive to you, but many of us like looking at the flowers on our bedside table, on our work desk or in the living room. We can actually spend a minute or two admiring them and smelling their fragrance. Really — they can stop time. Wouldn’t you like to be the reason behind this moment of bliss?


4. We like remembering how we received them.

The presence of your flowers sparks the memory of you when gave them, what words you used and the general loveliness of the moment. Flowers are a surefire way to grab a woman’s attention and make her continuously think of you whenever she glances at the bouquet.


5. We deserve them. Period.

We don’t care how much or little they cost. We don’t care if it you bought them from the mall or went to the fields to gather the freshest roses. It doesn’t matter. The point is that every woman deserves to be delighted by flowers — despite the fact that they die, they make us feel special — which is hopefully, what you want.

Pomegranate. Pecans. Raw Chard. Christmas Tree Salad!

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This Christmas Tree Holiday Salad will fill your holiday season table with cheer! And healthy-deliciousness too. Dive in. Twinkly lights not needed for this shiny-fabulous tree..
Shopping Tip. Make sure you buy organic, super fresh chard since it is your main ingredient! Look for perky green leaves with plenty of “bounce” in their movement. Wash and pat dry your chard leaves very well.

Nutrition Bonus!
This salad is filled with healthy things. Those pomegranate seeds are loaded with antioxidants. The pecans are rich in healthy fats and minerals. The chard is loaded with vitamins and minerals – including even more free radical fighting antioxidants. The citrus is rich in vitamin C. The dried fruit and pretty much all of the ingredients are rich in fiber.

And in case you didn’t notice, this salad is DELICIOUS even though it has no oil added. The only fat comes built in from those crunchy raw pecans.

Christmas Tree Salad – aka Raw Chard Pecan Pom Salad
makes about 6-7 cups

1 bunch organic swiss chard (red or green will work) – rinsed well + sliced into thin ribbons
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds (about the amount from from 1 medium pomegranate)
3/4 cup frozen red globe grapes, sliced*
2 satsuma mandarin oranges, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1/4-1/2 cup chopped pecans, raw
2 Tbsp dried cranberries (or another dried fruit like dried golden raisins or even chopped dates!) – organic
1 small honeycrisp apple, organic – chopped

*tip: those frozen grapes help to keep the salad nice and cool for you and your holiday guests! I simply freeze the grapes, then right before I slice and toss with the salad, I run them under warm to hot water to quickly “thaw” the outside layer. This washes off any ice crystals too. It also seems to easily release lots of sweet grape flavor!

“dressing/seasonings”
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup, grade B
1/3 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp fine black pepper
1/8 tsp coriander
a pinch of cayenne (optional, but warms up things nicely)
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
a few pinches of satsuma orange zest

(feel free to use your own seasonings as desired as well – or use your own favorite dressing.)

star topper: 1 slice of toast (I used sprouted grain)

Other optional ingredients that would be fabulous: pear, avocado, dates, bell pepper, corn, grains like quinoa or brown rice, beans, tomatoes, diced roasted squash or sweet potato …… gosh, pretty much anything yummy would be beautiful in this salad!

Directions: Simply prep all your ingredients and toss them with the dressing/spices in a large bowl. Toss and mix very well since this will help to distribute the flavors and infuse the chard with flavor. You can serve right away or chill in the fridge for up to 12 hours in advance before serving. Any longer and your chard will begin to get a bit soft. Serve raw and chilled. Top it! For the “star” tree topper, simply toast any slice of bread and using either your knife (free-hand) or a star-shaped cookie cutter, cut out a toast star to top the tree salad.

8 Lucky Colours To Wear in 2016!

The tradition to wear specific colours in order to attract good luck is popular all over the world. As everything is energy – including colour, of course! – what you wear is believed to bring you all manner of luck and success.

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The same choice of colours is believed to bring you luck when you use these colours in your accessories, as well as in your home decor.

Is this true, though? Does it really work?

And, most importantly, what is the choice of specific colours to wear based on?

For those who are anxious to find the answer right away, let me give some feng shui details for the coming year – the year of the Fire Monkey 2016. Afterwards, if you are interested in where the tradition comes from and what it is based upon, we will look into that, too!

2016 is the Year of the Fire feng shui element – the Fire Monkey – so to be in harmony with the energy of the year and befriend the ruling Fiery Monkey energy, it is recommended to wear the colours of the Fire feng shui element.

So, the first six lucky colors are:

1. Red

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2. Yellow

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3. Orange

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4. Purple

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5. Magenta

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6. Pink

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In addition to the Fire feng shui element colours, you can also wear the colours of the Wood element, because this is the element that creates the Fire element in feng shui.

So, the next lucky colours are the colours of the Wood feng shui element:

7. Green

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8. Brown 

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Are there more lucky colors to wear in 2016? Not really, but know that there are many variations of the Fire element colors, such as coral orange, or plum/mauve, so use your intuition as to which color expresses for you the Fire or the Wood elements.

You can wear not only clothing, but all sorts of accessories in these 8 colours, such as jewelry, belts, scarfs, etc.

To make it even more powerful, you can choose jewellery with natural crystals and stones with the presence of Fire energy, such as rose quartz, garnet and ruby.

Or, go for Wood element energy crystals, such as green jade, agate, green tourmaline and malachite.

Are there colours that are best to avoid in the New Year, or at least for the New Year celebration? Yes, for sure. Least favourable colours in 2016 are the colours of the Water and Earth feng shui elements. These colors are blue  and black  (Water element) and all earthy tones (Earth element).

If you want to go a bit deeper with choosing best colours for yourself, it is always good to know your personal birth element, and see which colours support and nourish your energy. For example, if your personal feng shui birth element is Earth, wearing Wood colours all the time can weaken your energy.

The tradition to wear specific colours for each coming New Year is based on Chinese tradition, or, more specifically, on the feng shui theory of five elements. According to the Chinese calendar, the energy of each year is expressed in the energy of a specific feng shui element. There are 5 elements in feng shui – Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal.

Each element is expressed in specific colours, shapes, images or items that carry its energy. For example, the Fire element of 2016 Year of the Monkey is expressed in colours red, orange, purple, yellow, pink and magenta; in triangular shapes and, of course, in candles, fireplaces and various  images of fire.

The interesting part, though, is that Chinese New Year starts on a different day each year (and never on January 1st), so if you want to really use the Chinese approach and benefit from colours of the year, then you will also have to celebrate Chinese (Lunar) New Year, because this is when the year actually begins in Chinese cosmology.

In 2016, the New Year – the Fire Monkey Year – starts on February 8, 2016. This gives you another chance for a good celebration, along with a fresh new start, doesn’t it?

Good luck and all the best to you in 2016, no matter which colours you choose to wear.

84% of Vegetarians and Vegans Return to Meat. Why?

Hal Herzog Ph.D.
Hal Herzog Ph.D.
Animals and Us

One of my daughters recently asked me for suggestions on types of meat she might enjoy. I was shocked. A vegetarian for nearly 18 years, she has always found meat, well, icky. In retrospect, I should not have been surprised about her new interest in carnivory. After all, as a researcher, I have studied vegetarians who return to meat. But I never figured she would join the ranks of ex-vegetarians, so I asked her to jot down a few words about why she originally gave up the consumption of flesh and why she now feels compelled to change her veggie ways. Here’s what she wrote….

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I stopped eating meat when I was 13. I told my mom and dad that my decision was based on animal welfare and the high carbon footprint of meat. But the truth is that while I theoretically cared about animals and the planet, mostly I just wanted to be different. I lived in a small Southern town where it was more common to see the image of Jesus in a piece of toast than encounter a real live vegetarian. So while my motives weren’t entirely pure, giving up meat certainly made me different: Population of Cullowhee, NC: 9,427 meat eaters and 1 vegetarian.

For the next 17 years, I ate grains, produce, legumes, and fake meat products like those Morningstar bacon strips that have a lower nutritional value than cat food. And for the next 17 years, it seemed like I was always hungry no matter how large my bowl of beans and rice. Even worse than constant hunger, I didn’t seem to enjoy food the way other people did. Eating was a chore, like folding laundry or paying bills, but even more annoying because if I didn’t do it I would die. I was sick of being hungry, I was sick of beans and rice, and so at the age of 31, I have made a decision: I will try and become a meat-eater.

Thanks to a new study by the Humane Research Council, we now know a lot more about the psychology of why so many vegetarians and vegans, like my daughter, give up their all-veggie ways.

 The Methods

The Humane Research Council(link is external) is a non-profit that uses market research techniques to assess public opinions related to animal issues. Their mission is to provide information animal protection organizations can use to more effectively spread their messages. And for this study, they recruited a group of top flight social scientists to design a survey to examine differences between current and ex-vegetarians and vegans.

The study sample was unique for a couple of reasons. First it was huge – 11,399 adults of all dietary stripes which were recruited from a representative group of Americans maintained by Harris Interactive (part of the company that conducts the highly respected Harris Poll). Second, while not perfectly representative of the American public, it is a much closer representation of the population of the United States than other studies of our collective dietary choices. (While the sample was a bit older, wealthier, more educated, whiter, and more female that the general public, I was more impressed by how diverse it was.)

The Findings:

For anyone interested in the psychology of meat-eating and meat avoidance, the data is a gold mine. Here is a quick overview of some of the more interesting findings

How Many? – The proportion of true vegetarians and vegans in the United State is surprisingly small. Only about 2% of respondents did not consume any meat – 1.5% were vegetarians and 0.5% were vegans. These finding are generally consistent with other studies(link is external).

Going Back – Five out of six people who give up meat eventually abandon their vegetarian ways.

Vegans Vs. Vegetarians – Vegans are less like to backslide than vegetarians. While 86% of vegetarians returned to meat, only 70% of vegans did.

Political views – More than twice as many vegetarians and vegans indicated they were politically liberal rather than said they were conservative.

Demographics – Compared to current vegetarian/vegans, ex-vegetarians tended to be older, more conservative, and more likely to be traditional Christians. There were no differences in the gender ratios, education, or race/ethnicity of former and current vegetarian/vegans.

Gender differences – As expected, there were higher proportions of women than men among both present and former meat avoiders. (Nearly every study has found that women are more concerned about animal issues. For a review, see here(link is external).)

Reasons for going veg – Current vegetarians/vegans were considerably more likely than former meat avoiders to say they originally gave up eating meat for reasons of taste, concern for animals, feelings of disgust, social justice, and religious beliefs.

Health problems – Only 29% of ex-vegetarians/vegans indicated that they experienced specific health-related symptoms while on a no-meat diet.

Back to veggies? – 37% of ex-vegetarian/vegans indicated that they would be interested in going back to a no-meat diet at some point in the future.

The purity problem – 43% of ex-vegetarians/vegans said they found it too difficult to be “pure” with their diet.

The Implications: Meat Reduction Is More Effective Than Meat Elimination

The implications of this study are important. Only 2% of Americans do not eat any animal products. (This number has not changed appreciably for 20 years). Further, the fact that five out of six vegetarians go back to eating meat suggests that an all-veggie diet is very hard for most people to maintain over the long haul. Hence, the authors of the report argue that animal protectionists would be better off concentrating their efforts to persuade “the many” to reduce their consumption of flesh than trying to convince “the few” to take the absolutist route and give up meat completely. Sounds right to me.

Post script: In reality, my daughter was not the only vegetarian in her home town when she was a kid. And today she is still a reluctant omnivore. The truth is that she does not like meat very much — but we did eat a sausage and mushroom pizza for dinner last night.