Sir; We noted with interest the article headed, Processed means less guilt' (December 1, p20), which said "estimates from TN Sofres suggest vegetarians have eaten their way through 1,800t of bacon in the past year". I understand that the TN Sofres' estimates were based on two-week food diaries of 22,000 people and a questionnaire to establish how the person would define their food consumption. This showed that some of the respondents who ate meat described themselves as vegetarians. This is not evidence as you suggest of "bacon ­ penetration into the vegetarian niche" as no vegetarian would knowingly eat red meat, white meat, fish, shellfish, crustacea or slaughter house by-products (such is the definition of vegetarianism). Rather it is evidence that some meat eaters or meat reducers wish to identify with the vegetarian ethic and choose to call themselves vegetarian. This may be in part, as you suggest, because of guilt about the slaughter of animals. This is evidence of the attractiveness and acceptability of the vegetarian diet in the UK ­ the very strength of its "force in the British food market". The Vegetarian Society has never claimed that up to 10%' of the population is vegetarian, but we suggest that around 5% of the adult population of the UK is vegetarian, based on such research as that of the Food Standards Agency before the foot and mouth crisis. I would hope your readers would accept this as reasonably authoritative. Manufacturers or retailers requiring realistic data on UK levels of vegetarianism may contact the society or visit our website at Samantha Calvert Head of marketing and PR Vegetarian Society {{LETTERS }}