With consumers becoming more aware of the health, animal welfare and environmental implications of producing and consuming meat, people in the UK are taking a more conscious approach to their meat-eating.
Among those seeking to reduce their intake is the relatively new category who call themselves ‘flexitarians’. They eat meat infrequently but don’t reject it entirely.
New research by YouGov surveyed UK consumers to find out their attitudes towards meat-eating, and to explore the growth of flexitarianism. Among its findings are:
Nearly everyone eats at least some meat
While it might be a newly coined name, flexitarianism has become established quickly.
More people say they are flexitarian (14%) than pescatarian (3%), vegetarian (3%) and vegan (1%) combined. Adding this to the 73% of the UK population who call themselves meat-eaters, it means almost nine out of 10 people eat some meat.
Less than half of people (42%) believe that a meat-free diet is the healthier option.
Even meat-eaters are reducing their meat intake
More than a quarter (26%) of those who call themselves meat-eaters agree they are actively trying to reduce their meat consumption.
While that’s well below the 69% of flexitarians who say the same, it shows a significant effort to reduce intake even among those who habitually eat meat.
But neither group tends to be planning to cut it out entirely, as only a quarter of flexitarians say it’s likely they’ll be vegetarian in a year’s time and 8% that they’ll be vegan. The numbers are just 3% and 2% respectively among meat eaters.
This suggests most people make a conscious decision about the amount of meat they consume.
Young women are most likely to give up meat
Young female meat-eaters and flexitarians are the ones most likely to give up meat entirely: 15% of 18- to 24-year-old women who eat meat intend to do so, versus 11% of men of the same age and 5% of women over 55.
Full-time students and part-time workers also over-index on intending to cut out meat, as do those living with parents or housemates and those who are expecting a baby.
Ethics are important to those giving up
Meat-eaters and flexitarians who plan to stop eating meat entirely are much more likely than the average consumer to be conscious of ethical concerns. Almost all say they always make an effort to recycle (96% versus 82% of the general population), and 71% make an effort to buy fair trade products (versus 35% of the population).
They are also more likely than average to want brands they interact with to be socially responsible and will stop buying from ones that hold views they disagree with.
Animal welfare is the biggest reason why these consumers are looking to quit meat, followed by a variety of health concerns.
Also in the report
- The media consumption habits of those looking to give up meat
- The potential market for alternatives to meat
- How Quorn has taken advantage of the changing market.