Britain’s growing appetite for meat free food

Eating Better survey shows greener diet more popular than ever as companies join the bandwagon

Colourful fruit and vegetables

Almost half of Britons are either eating less meat or would be happy to cut down on their intake. A new survey has shown that 44 per cent of British people are now dining or willing to dine with people and planet in mind.

Released to coincide with National Vegetarian Week this week, the YouGov survey of 1,715 people was commissioned by Eating Better, an alliance of organisations and campaigns – including MFM – dedicated to promoting greener eating.

It shows that young people (18 to 24) are more informed about the effect the meat and livestock industry is having on the environment, and are more willing to amend their eating habits accordingly. More than twice as many young people as those aged over 65 agreed that “producing and consuming meat/livestock products has a significant negative impact on the environment” – 46 per cent compared with 20 per cent.

The positive findings tally with new research by analysts Kantar Worldpanel that shows demand for meat free meals is at an all-time high. This year 114,000 more shoppers have been choosing meat free options when they shop, leaving beefburgers and bacon on the shelf, adding another £17 million a year to a “take-home” meat free market now worth £284 million.

However, Eating Better also found that people want to see companies catering more for those who eat no meat or are trying to eat less. Britons are keen to see shops and restaurants offer more dishes with no or less meat, the price of meat free meals lowered, and for schools to offer more meat free grub.

Lucky then, that the alliance has also produced a report that highlights which are the beacon businesses in this respect. The report, The future of eating is flexitarian: companies leading the way, was launched yesterday and bigs up those doing more to offer customers the healthy, nutritious and environmentally food they want. Eating Better started keeping track of how businesses catered for meat free eaters three years ago, when pickings were slim. Now it says 20 food companies deserve recognition for their hard work cooking, selling and promoting veggie and vegan fare.

Among those given the green light for promoting greener eating are Pret A Manger, which is serving more veggie-friendly food and has opened meat free branches; Sainsbury’s, for trialling ways to encourage shoppers to buy meat free; and Tesco, M&S and Co-op, for expanding their veggie and vegan range.

Download the Eating Better report