Brits are eating less meat than at any point since the 1970s.
It is being claimed that the cost of living crisis and the rise of veganism has lowered demand.
According to The Times:
Consumption at home fell 12.5 per cent to an average of 854g a week in the year to March 2022, down from 976g the previous year and 949g in the year before the pandemic, according to new figures.
Consumers are ditching beef, pork and lamb faster than other meats. Over the past decade, consumption of these products has fallen 26 per cent while chicken and other meats is down only 11 per cent.
Overall, meat consumption at home is 14 per cent lower than in 2012.
People are also buying fewer burgers, kebabs and meat pies from takeaways at a weekly average of 27g per person, less than half of what it was in 2012. However, this drop is likely to have been exaggerated by the impact of the pandemic when people had meals delivered.
Consumption of fish also fell, with the average person reporting eating only 135g a week, down from 148g before the pandemic.
The price of meat has risen dramatically since the pandemic. The cost of a a steak is up 10 per cent in the past year and chicken by 9 per cent. Consumers appear to be responding to this by not only by eating less meat but by moving to cheaper cuts.
Recent YouGov polling also suggests that one in eight people are vegan or vegetarian. Many have given up meat on health grounds; others because they believe it to be better for the environment.
A recent study by Oxford University found that a vegan diet resulted in 75 per cent fewer emissions than a diet involving 100g of meat a day.
However, while the government figures are the latest available, they are more than 18 months old and may now be reversing after apparent backlash against veganism this year.
Several suppliers of meat-free products have seen sales slump since January. In August, Beyond Meat, which supplies McDonald’s, reported that sales were down 30.5 per cent over the previous three months. In the past year, Pret A Manger has closed half of its vegetarian and vegan-only stores.
Nonetheless, experts want more people to give up meat to help the planet.
In 2020, the Climate Change Committee suggested the government adopt a target of a 35 per cent cut in meat consumption by 2050 to help reach net zero.