Meat free eating is becoming so popular that one in four of us is likely to have given up meat entirely before the middle of this century. That’s the conclusion of new research that also reveals three-fifths of us are already looking to cut back on the amount of meat we eat.
The research, commissioned by Linda McCartney Foods to celebrate the famous vegetarian food brand’s 25th birthday, looked back at food trends over the past quarter of a century and forward to the next quarter. Coming as it does at the start of Vegetarian Week 2016, the research highlights just how much a part of the British diet meat free food has become, and how much more important it’s likely to become.
There are now more than double the number of vegetarians in Britain as there were in 1991: a leap from 6 per cent to 12 per cent of the population. That upward trajectory is likely to continue: by 2041, the research concluded, a quarter of Britons will be enjoying a Meat Free Monday every day of the week.
Driving the move away from meat are the Millennials (those born between 1982 and 1999; a fifth of the population) and the baby-boomers (those born after the war; a third of the population). The former have been influenced in their dietary decisions by the growth in awareness of environmental issues that has dominated the global conversation since their youth. The latter are more likely to be choosing to eat less meat as a result of the increased awareness of its adverse health effects, backed up by a number of scientific papers over recent years.
The research found that three-fifths (59%) of those questioned were keen to reduce their intake of meat, mostly for health reasons, which suggests Britain in future will be a nation that grows and consumes more plant-based proteins than ever before.
Around the world, people are eating far less meat than 25 years ago, with 7 per cent less red meat eaten in Britain today. And with less money being spent on meat, there has been more available to splurge on vegetarian products: the market is worth £820 million today, almost four times what it was 25 years ago, and it will climb to £2.38 billion by 2041.
Meat Free Monday founder Paul McCartney said: “Linda made it happen and I along with Stella, Mary and the rest of our family love being involved today in her legacy, we are incredibly proud of the brand she created.
“We truly believe that vegetarianism is the way for us all to eat and live, now and in the future. The whole world is far more conscious about their health and their footprint; gradually we’re making better decisions. We have come a long way, however there is much more to do and we invite everyone to join us for the next 25 years and beyond. Viva veggie!”