We may be best known for our fish and chips, hearty roasts, and steak and kidney pies — but British cuisine seems to be taking a turn for the vegetarian.
Some 29% of evening meals eaten in the UK now contain zero meat or fish, according to new research.
Market monitor Kantar Worldpanel surveyed the eating habits in 30,000 households nation-wide, in the 12 weeks leading up to the end of January.
And they discovered that a “sustained interest” in meat-free diets are affecting habits, according to the BBC.
Throughout January, 10% of shoppers bought a meat-free ready meal — pushing sales up by 15% compared to January 2017.
Sales of vegetables have also reportedly seen a boost — with spinach and aubergines seeing an increase of 43% and 23% respectively, compared to the previous 12 months.
The research may have been slightly skewed by “Veganuary” — which saw aspiring vegans cutting out all animal products for the month of January.
But there is an undeniable movement towards vegetarianism, veganism, and “flexitarianism” in the UK — and it seems as though it could be here to stay, with supermarkets realising this is a great market to cater to.
British supermarkets are all launching new ranges, or expanding their meat-free product options. Tesco launched the “Wicked Kitchen” in January — the largest own-brand supermarket range of 100% plant-based meals.
Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s sales of vegan cheese exceeded expectations by 300%, according to the Guardian; UberEats saw a 400% rise in vegan searches; and Pret A Manger sold more veggie products than meaty.
“Around the world we are seeing a significant increase in meat-reduction diets, including both flexitarianism and veganism,” said Kevin Brennan, the CEO of Yorkshire-based Quorn Foods, which saw a 16% rise in global sales last year.
The range of Quorn products — which are made by fermenting fungus to create Mycoprotein — has expanded rapidly over recent years, and now includes everything from meat-free steak strips and “chicken” nuggets, to fishless fingers.
Read more: 9 Ways Veganism Is Helping the Planet
In the past 10 years, the number of vegans in Britain has risen by 360% — and more than half of UK adults are adopting “vegan-buying behaviour,” according to the Vegan Society. Meanwhile, a third of Brits are now use the term “flexitarian” to describe their eating habits.
But the rise in vegetarianism doesn’t seem to have had a great impact on the British meat industry, with the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) saying that short-term meat sales are increasing, according to the BBC.
According to the UN, going vegan could help have a positive impact on world hunger, fuel poverty, and climate change.
It’s estimated that some 700 million tonnes of food that could be eaten by humans every year goes instead to feeding livestock — cutting down on the amount of food available for human consumption as a result. Livestock also detract from the amount of fresh water available for humans to drink, and they’re also one of the biggest polluters of fresh water.
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