Some 28 per cent of meat-eating British adults have reduced or limited the amount of meat they eat, according to a new poll, with a further 14 per cent thinking about cutting down in the future.
Looking at data from the six months to March 2017, Mintel's Meat-Free Foods 2017 Report found health was the main driver in choosing to reduce meat consumption, with 49 per cent of those who are interested in or already cutting back agree that eating too much meat is bad for their health.
Other reasons included weight management (29 per cent), the environment (24 per cent) and animal welfare (24 per cent). For people who don't eat meat or poultry at all – nine per cent of Brits – 54 per cent of them say it's for animal welfare reasons. However, for those under the age of 25, the most common reason is for vegetarianism's environmental benefits.
Apparently a lot of this move to a less-meat lifestyle is down to campaigns like Meat Free Monday, National Vegetarian Week and Veganuary; 39 per cent of people who have reduced meat in their diets say they have made them more aware of the benefits of eating less meat. Sixteen per cent have been influenced by healthy-eating bloggers and vloggers.
"Despite the ingrained popularity of meat and poultry, a clear trend has emerged of people cutting back and limiting how much of these products they eat. That 'flexitarianism', a whole new dietary phrase, was coined to describe this movement also highlights its indisputably mainstream status," comments Emma Clifford, Senior Food Analyst at Mintel.
"On top of the various other benefits linked to reducing meat consumption, following a meat-free diet is likely to be aspirational to many consumers and social media is playing an important role in the attraction of this endeavour."
She adds that meat-free brands could benefit from increased interest in environmental issues.
"The ethical card in terms of helping to maintain a green planet is a powerful one for meat-free brands to play, particularly now that the issue is attracting a lot of attention. Flagging up that consumers are making a choice which is good for the environment and which can help to create a greener future in the long-term is likely to be a persuasive selling point."