A quarter of people in Great Britain have cut back on the amount of meat they eat, a new survey has revealed.
The research carried out by environmental alliance, Eating Better, also found that one in six young people do not eat any meat while over a third of the general population are open to the idea of eating less meat. Meanwhile, just two per cent admitted to eating more meat now than in the past.
Ready meals containing meat and processed meats are most likely to be off the menu, the YouGov survey found. This is believed to be due to growing mistrust of the meat industry as a result of the horse meat scandal.
Concern for animal welfare topped the reasons for considering eating less meat, ahead of saving money, food quality/safety and health.
The survey results also showed a more than doubling in awareness of the meat industry’s significant environmental impact from just one in seven people in 2007 to nearly one in three in 2013.
The most dramatic change has been in young people (18-24) with a five fold increase in awareness from eight per cent in 2007 to 40 per cent now.
Those in this age bracket were nearly 3 times more likely to say they don’t eat any meat at all – compared to the survey’s average – with one in six (17 per cent) saying they do not eat meat.
Responding to the survey results, Vegetarian Society Head of Communications Liz O’Neill said, “The findings should encourage chefs and caterers to take stock. For far too long vegetarians have been expected to be grateful for pasta and tomato sauce!
“As more and more customers choose not to eat meat it’s the restaurants with variety, an imaginative menu and good customer service that will survive.”
Britain’s shift away from meat is considered good news not only for animals but also for the health of the nation.
Around 228,000 of its citizens die every year from the three major conditions connected to food intake – heart disease, strokes and cancer.
Reduction, or elimination, of meat from diets could extend the lives of many of these. Experts also say it would help save the strained National Health Service (NHS) an estimated £1.2 billion annually.
Originally published in Vegan Future newspaper. Read the newspaper for 18 pages of vegan news from around the world.