Lockdown has given people the perfect opportunity to try new things, from learning a language to writing a novel. But one of the simplest has to be trying a healthy new cuisine and helping to save the planet. And more people than ever before are giving it a try.
No Meat May, the annual celebration of meatlessness, has seen record numbers sign up to enjoy a plant-based diet for the month. Almost 35,000 people are taking part this year, more than three times the number who pledged to take part in 2019, when the world was a very different place.
The eighth annual campaign kicked off this month and its organisers say it proves people are more open than ever to giving meat the cold shoulder. They add that 94 per cent of those who take never go back to eating the same amount of meat as before.
First launched in Australia, No Meat May encourages people to give up meat for 31 days for “four big reasons”: their health, the environment, animals and to ensure the sustainability of the world’s food systems. With recipes, cooking demos and live feeds from top chefs and celebrities to help them, those taking part will cut their greenhouse gas emissions by about 30 per cent, according to the organisers – and by 85 per cent if they decide to make it a No Meat or Other Animal Products May.
While the plan is to survey those taking part to see what effect the coronavirus has had on their eating habits, it’s certain the crisis has made people more aware of where our food comes from. The virus is believed to have crossed to humans from animals such as bats and pangolins being sold for meat at a “wet market” in China.
Ryan Alexander, the co-founder of No Meat May, said it was difficult to know whether the record number of sign-ups was an indication that concerns about food were increasing or because people “simply want to learn a new way to cook and experience the benefits of plant-based eating while in lockdown”.
Plant-based food is certainly becoming more popular: meat free brands have been given a boost as more people decide to make a change for the greener. Last year 39 per cent of people described themselves as meat-reducers, according to the research organisation Mintel, up from 28 per cent in 2017. This year it appears the figure may be higher still.
Sign up at nomeatmay.net