According to market research firm Mintel, 20 million Brits—nearly 40 percent of meat-eaters—say they’re reducing their meat consumption and adopting flexitarian diets.
By eating primarily vegetarian and plant-forward foods, consumers hope to save money, be healthier, and help the environment.
New data reveals that the number of Brits who have eaten meat-free foods increased to 65 percent in 2019. This is up from 50 percent in 2017. Mintel says that the sales of meat-free options grew by 40 percent between 2014 and 2019.
The sales of plant-based options are predicted to exceed £1.1 billion by the year 2024. Further research from the Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) suggests that 23 percent of all new UK food product launches in 2019 were vegan.
While vegan food consumption is on the rise, it is flexitarians who are driving sales. Mintel suggests that the number of meat-eaters reducing their meat consumption increased from 28 percent in 2017 to 39 percent in 2019.
“The rising popularity of flexitarian diets has helped to drive demand for meat-free products,” said Mintel Global Food & Drink Analyst Kate Vlietstra. “Many consumers perceive that plant-based foods are a healthier option.
“This notion is the key driver behind the reduction in meat consumption in recent years,” added Vlietstra.
The Benefits of Plant-Based
According to Mintel, 32 percent of meat-reducing Brits are primarily motivated by health, while 31 percent are motivated by budget. Last year, Brits saved around £6.7 Billion by eating inexpensive, plant-based foods instead of meat and dairy.
According to research commissioned by the vegetarian brand Linda McCartney, more than 12 million meat eaters consumed less pork, beef, lamb, and chicken in 2019 compared to previous years. That shift saved them around £550 each.
In Mintel’s research, around 25 percent of those cutting back on meat also cited environmental reasons as a central factor. Fifty-four percent of younger consumers, aged 16-24, see reducing animal products as a positive way of impacting the environment.
Animal agriculture is a leading cause of climate change. It creates greenhouse gas, dominates the land, uses high volumes of water, and damages ecosystems. A large-scale food production analysis in 2018 revealed that adopting a plant-based diet is the single most effective way for an individual to mitigate the effects of climate change.