LIFESTYLE
07/02/2018 15:39 SAST

Almost A Third Of U.K. Meals Are Now Vegetarian As Brits Cut Down On Meat

167,000 people took part in Veganuary this year.

Brits no longer see “meat and two veg” as the golden dinner combination. According to new data, almost a third of the meals we consume in the evening are now vegetarian. The findings, from retail analysts Kantar Worldpanel, suggest during January almost a third (29%) of evening meals eaten across Britain contained no meat or fish

The researchers said the stat is likely due to the “sustained interest” in lifestyle choices such as veganism and vegetarianism, with the annual challenge ‘Veganuary’ contributing to high figure. Statistics from Veganuary show 167,000 committed to not eating animal by-products during January 2018, compared to 60,000 who signed up in 2017.  

The analysts suggested increased accessibility of vegan products on the market may also be encouraging more people to try alternative meals, and we’re not surprised. After all, 2017 was the year Vegan Baileys was introduced to the masses, Sainsbury’s expanded its range of ‘Gary’ vegan cheeses and vegan lunches became the norm on the high street.

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The research uncovered increased sales of vegetables across supermarkets in the past 12 months, with sales of spinach, cherries and aubergine up 43%, 25% and 23% respectively. Sales of meat-free ready meals also skyrocketed by 15% compared to January 2017, with one in 10 shoppers buying one over the three-week period ending 28 January 2018 

A spokesperson from Veganuary said documentaries such as ‘Cowspiracy’, ‘What The Health’ and films like ‘Okja’ on Netflix may have contributed to more people being concerned by animal welfare and reducing their meat consumption. “The internet, and social media especially, is key in delivering this information to a wider and more diverse audience than ever before,” they told HuffPost UK. “In only a few clicks, you can move from a campaign advert to footage recorded in factory farms. Highlighting the reality behind the product marketing.”

The latest review from the organisation found more than half a million people in Britain now follow a vegan diet. Meanwhile research from 2016 suggested flexitarianism - the practice of being a “flexible vegetarian” - was on the rise, with one in three people making a concerted effort to cut their meat consumption.

Following a flexitarian diet can benefit your health, the environment and your bank balance, and Katie Teehan, who saves meat for a weekend treat, said it’s also made her a more adventurous cook. 

“I find Asian food like curries, ramen and stir fries are super easy to make without meat - it doesn’t feel like you’re ‘swapping’ meat for veg,” she told HuffPost UK. “The biggest upside is I’m easily getting more than my five-a-day now, I probably hit eight or 10 most days. I still have meat if I’m really craving it, but most of the time I really don’t miss it.”

If you’re inspired to cut down your use of meat or animal by-products, check our our guide on snacks you didn’t know were vegan, or give one of these vegan salad recipes a go.