Rise of the vegetarians
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Are you cutting down on meat in an attempt to stay healthy?
If so, you could be part of the growing trend for ‘flexitarian’ eating, as Britons consume less meat in favour of a more plant-based diet.
Most stop short of becoming full-blown vegetarians, succumbing to the odd tempting meaty treat such as bacon.
But a survey found 40 per cent agreed with the statement ‘these days I eat less meat than I used to’, rising to 45 per cent among women.
A third of Britons said they were ‘actively choosing to eat less meat’.
And among the younger generation, 28 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds agreed that ‘by 2025, my diet will probably be mostly meat-free’.
The research, by environmental think-tank Forum for the Future, said: ‘This movement is being driven by women and people aged 15 to 34. Given that women remain the primary grocery shoppers in the majority of households, grocery retailers and suppliers will need to respond to growing demand for diets richer in plants and lower in animal products.’
The study added that ‘public opinion towards eating meat is clearly shifting and moderation is becoming mainstream’.
It found 52 per cent of under-35s thought eating a full English breakfast was bad for you, while a third of adults believed that by 2025, parents will generally not feed their children hamburgers or sausages.
The study said Western Europeans are increasingly cutting back on meat – eating 10 per cent less in 2009 than in 1990, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s figures.
Some Britons may be cutting down on red and processed meat after the World Health Organisation linked it to cancer, the experts said. Other concerns could include excessive use of antibiotics in livestock, leading to fears that farms are increasingly becoming breeding grounds for drug-resistant bacteria.
But Dr Carrie Ruxton, a dietitian on the industry-funded Meat Advisory Panel, said: ‘The report is lacking in evidence and gives a misleading view of including red meat in the diet.
‘Lean red meat is a nutritious and safe food when eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables. A healthy diet can include up to 500g of red meat each week, so the 95 per cent of people who currently enjoy eating meat do not have to give it up.’