More than one-third of people in Britain have at least one dedicated vegetarian day a week, says new research.
Science Group company Leatherhead Food Research conducted a survey of 999 adults in the UK. It found that many are cutting down on their meat consumption — particularly red meat — for health and environmental reasons.
According to the study, 40 percent of Brits are eating a “bit less red meat.” Fourteen percent of households include a vegetarian and 35 percent eat completely vegetarian for at least one day every week.
Health was a key motivator for ditching red meat for more than half of participants, across a number of age brackets.
Studies have linked red and processed meat consumption to a higher risk of a number of diseases, including colorectal cancer and heart disease. Emmy Kenny — an advisor to Food Standards Scotland — has even suggested that processed and red meat products should be labeled with health warnings, like tobacco products.
She said last year, “the Western world would be a far healthier and happier place if the food industry were regulated in a truthful manner. If when you went to buy red meat you were confronted with pictures of bowel cancer…”
Ditching Meat for the Planet
Young people aren’t just concerned about their own health; they’re increasingly concerned about the planet’s health, too. Leatherhead Food Research stated that out of those aged 16 to 35, more than half highlighted the environment as a reason to reduce their meat consumption.
Research has linked animal agriculture to a number of environmental issues, including high levels of greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation. The Amazon rainforest fires have been linked to beef production as cattle ranchers set fire to the forest to clear land for their herd.
In response to changing attitudes, a number of major supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Waitrose have introduced more vegan products. Tesco recently introduced entire vegan sections in its stores.
“People are becoming more purposeful about food choices in the home,” said Cindy Beeren, operations director at Leatherhead Food Research, in a statement. “Manufacturers and retailers are changing their offering to meet evolving demands.”
She added, “the message from Public Health England about reducing consumption of red and processed meat seems to be taking hold. But it’s interesting to see that, for younger adults, environmental concerns are just as important.”