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Restaurants boost vegetarian options as a third of diners eat less meat

By Michelle Perrett , 18-Feb-2016
Last updated on 19-Feb-2016 at 16:41 GMT2016-02-19T16:41:14Z

Dishes from the 1847 vegetarian restaurant group
Dishes from the 1847 vegetarian restaurant group

Almost three in ten people have reduced the amount of meat they eat in the past 12 months, says new research for the Vegetarian Society. 

A further one in ten said they were considering reducing their meat intake or cutting meat out completely, the findings revealed.

The report, produced by Britain's leading independent social research institute, NatCen, also states that nearly half (44 per cent) of people either do not eat meat, have reduced the amount of meat they eat or are considering reducing the amount of meat they eat. 

The analysis found that over a third of women (34 per cent) and nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of men had reduced their meat intake in the last year. Older people (65 to 79 year olds) were twice as likely to have reduced their meat consumption as 18 to 24 year olds (39 per cent compared to 19 per cent).

Health reasons was by far the most common reason given for consuming less meat, cited by over half  (58 per cent) of people. Other reasons included saving money (21 per cent); concerns over animal welfare (20 per cent) and concerns around food safety (19 per cent). Around one in ten (11 per cent) people in this group mentioned environmental concerns.

Restaurants go meat-free

The trend towards eating less meat has already seen the rise in vegetarian options on menus.  Vegetarian dishes now account for 30 per cent of new menu items and leading pub chains now have 19 per cent of their menu targeted at meat-free consumers, M&C Allegra has revealed.   

Vegetarian restaurant group 1847 is rolling out sites with plans to have 10 by the end of this year. The chain is appealing to both vegetarians but meat eaters form a big chunk of its customer base. 

Lynne Elliot, chief executive of the Vegetarian Society, said: "This report very much reflects what we see every day in our work: that there is an increasing awareness of the issues relating to our food choices, and that has resulted in a large number of people reducing the amount of meat they eat or cutting it out altogether.”

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