A quarter of Brits are cutting down on meat, survey finds

Fruit and veg on chopping board

A quarter of the British public say they have cut back on the amount of meat they eat over the past year, according to new research commissioned by Eating Better, an alliance launched with the backing of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in July, to help people move towards eating less meat and more food that’s better for people and the planet. Only 2% of the people surveyed say they are eating more meat.

The YouGov survey found around one in three people saying they are willing to consider eating less meat, with a quarter saying they have already cut back on the amount of meat they eat over the last year. Ready meals, and processed meats are most likely to be avoided. Eating Better says the research suggests that the public remains wary of cheaper meats of unknown origin and poorer quality, also likely to be less healthy, following the horsemeat scandal.

However, the key motivation for people cutting back on meat was concern for animal welfare, ahead of saving money, food quality/safety and health.

The survey also found a large increase in awareness of the environmental impacts of producing and eating meat, from just 14% in a YouGov survey for Friends of the Earth in 2007 to 31% today.

“This survey shows that despite the rising cost of food, many people are prepared to put values before value for money,” said Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy, City University. “The horsemeat scandal showed where a race to the bottom leads. This is good news for farmers, as well as the health of the public and the health of the planet.”

The most dramatic change has been in young people aged 18-24 where there has been a five fold increase in awareness from just 8% in 2007 to 40% today. Young people were nearly three times more likely to say they don’t eat any meat at all – compared to the survey’s average – with one in six young people saying they don’t eat any meat.

“Food companies must take note and do more to help people switch to healthier, sustainable diets,” said Vicki Hird of Friends of the Earth and Chair of the Eating Better alliance.