Vegetarian and vegan: A quarter of UK dinners have no meat or fish

8 February 2018

More than a quarter of all evening meals in the UK are vegan or vegetarian, research shows.

In the 12 weeks to the end of January, 29% of them contained no meat or fish, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

Trends like Veganuary (going vegan for January) and "sustained interest" in meat-free diets are affecting habits, the market researcher said.

Meanwhile, Yorkshire-based meat substitute company Quorn Foods saw global sales rise by 16% last year.

The research - collected from a consumer panel of 30,000 households - reflects a year-on-year move to more vegetarian meals (26.9% of evening meals were vegetarian in 2014 and 27.8% in 2016).

Through January, one in 10 shoppers bought a meat-free ready meal, boosting sales by 15% compared to this time last year.

Sales of vegetables, such as spinach and aubergine, are also up 43% and 23% respectively, compared to the last 12 months.

Tesco is one of a growing number of retailers and high street chains looking to cater for the growing appetite for veganism, with new product ranges.

But both the supermarket's dairy and its produce lines - fruit and vegetables - saw the greatest sales growth, according to Kantar.

"Around the world we are seeing a significant increase in meat-reduction diets, including both flexitarianism and veganism," said Quorn Foods CEO, Kevin Brennan.

The company ferments a fungus to produce Mycoprotein.

This is used in all Quorn products from meat-free chicken and mince to burgers and fishless fingers.

But the rise in plant-based food hasn't affected the British meat industry as much as some would expect.

In fact, the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) says in the short term, meat sales are increasing.

In another report, Kantar's analysis shows that 0.9% more meat and poultry and 2.9% more processed meat and poultry (like bacon and sausages) was bought over the 2017 festive period than the previous Christmas.

While the AHDB - funded by farmers and growers - recognises the growth of flexitarians - who are reducing their meat consumption overall - it says most people are still enjoying meat dishes at the weekend or replacing red meat with fish or chicken.

In the long term, it said, meat-eating has slowed, but just 0.2% of meat and fish buyers stopped doing so last year.

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