Going vegetarian or vegan requires a lot of hard work, especially if you grew up eating meat. And for most people, it’s too tough a life to maintain.

Ever Wonder How Many Vegetarians And Vegans Go Back To Eating Meat?

Making the decision to go vegan or vegetarian has plenty of perks for your health and the planet. Still, it can be a tough switch to make, especially for Australians and Americans, who eat more meat per capita than any other people on Earth. The switch is one thing, but according to a new study from the Humane Research Council, sticking with it is even tougher.

The study, which analyzed a representative sample of 11,000 U.S. participants 17 and older, found that 84 percent of people who have adopted vegetarianism or veganism at some point in their lives have gone back to eating meat. A bit less than one in five vegans and vegetarians maintain their diet. (Maintaining the diet often involves adopting these 4 Meat Alternatives for Vegetarians.)

A new study from the Humane Research Council and Harris Interactive currently making the rounds surveyed the meat-eating habits of over 11,000 American adults — and found, disappointingly to some, that a whopping 84 percent of people who have given vegetarian or vegan diets a try eventually go back to eating meat. A lot media outlets have leapt from that little tidbit to calling vegetarianism and veganism “just a phase”; I think, though, that reducing it to “just a phase” does pretty big disservice both to the idea of vegetarianism in general and to the people who practice it specifically.

But the research went a bit further, digging into the rationale behind the diet drop. The researchers posit that some of the drop might be due to a lack of a gradual transition into the diet; 65 percent of former vegetarians and vegans said they made the transition abruptly, over a few days or weeks. For current vegetarians or vegans, only 53 percent transitioned that quickly.

You can read the full study over at the HRC’s website, but here are a few of the salient points: Among American adults 17 years of age and over, two percent are currently vegetarian or vegan, 10 percent are former vegetarians or vegans, and 88 percent have never been vegetarian or vegan. 84 percent of people who have gone veggie at some point in their life eventually revert back to being omnivores; furthermore, more than 50 percent of those who revert do it after less than a year of vegetarianism. A third do it after having tried a vegetarian diet for three months or less. Finally, the average age for deciding to go veggie is 34.

The current vegetarians and vegans have different motivations than the former, however. Most (58 percent) in the former group cited just only health as the main motivator, while most in the current group named several factors, including personal health, animal welfare, and environmentalism.