Millions of Brits to go ‘flexitarian’ and eat more veggie food than before

Millions of Brits plan to eat more vegetarian food this year in a bid to be more environmentally friendly – and impress people on Instagram.

A study of 2,000 adults showed 31% plan to be “flexitarian” by eating more meat-free products than they did in 2020.

Londoners are embracing plant-based food more than any other region (46%), followed by those in the west midlands (34%) and the south west (32%).

A sizeable four in 10 participants say they’re doing this with the environment in mind, while 45% say there’s no need to eat meat every day.

But 13% say they’re concerned with how they look on social media – and one in five want to be seen as “doing their part” during Veganuary.

Almost four in 10 (39%) also believe there are high quality meat free options available on the market.

And more than than half of those polled think plant based alternatives taste a lot better now than they used to, with meatless burgers, sausages and mince the most popular.

The average adult reckons more than a quarter of their meals in January will be plant based – equating to more than 1.2 billion meals across the UK – with this month likely to see more vegetarian meals eaten than at any other time of the year.

It also emerged 28% of adults will deliberately decrease their meat intake this year.

But for the majority (69%) giving up animal products permanently would be too difficult because they love them too much.

Food psychologist's tips on being flexitarian

  1. Select products that boast exciting spice blends and flavours for more enjoyment.
  2. Alternate veggie and meat days, or simply start with a couple of veggie days a week so you don't feel like you're missing out.
  3. Roasting veg makes it taste more exciting while retaining nutrients.
  4. Keep things varied – eat a bigger range of veg to keep the interest up.
  5. Make sure you're eating the 'rainbow' – make sure your plate of food is a range of bright colours.
  6. Texture matters – make sure that variety includes different textures such as soft tomatoes and crunchy carrots.
  7. Don't obsess with it being a meal made of veggies – focus on creating a really flavoursome dish using seasoning, herbs and different cooking techniques.
  8. Start slowly and pick something veggie that you associate with your favourite meal e.g. a burger except with a falafel patty, or a veggie-topped pizza.
  9. Make a veggie meal more of an event – incorporate exciting sauces such gochujang, wasabi, chutneys, or kimchi to fire up the taste buds.
  10. Make sure your vegetarian main includes a delicious side like homemade chips.

A spokesman from Rustlers, which commissioned the research following the launch of its Moroccan vegetarian burger, said: "In recent years we've embraced new lifestyles and adopted different attitudes towards diet, with reducing our meat intake firmly on the agenda.

"Of course, you do not have to give up meat to enjoy a vegetarian snack or meal, and it seems as though more people identifying as flexitarian is likely in 2021.

"January is always a popular time to try reducing our meat, with a number of people likely to be taking on Veganuary or trying to use the new year as a time to try something new."

Food psychologist Greg Tucker said: "January is a new start and people feel more motivated to try something different, usually for themselves and for the world around them.

"Ultimately it is this virtuous circle – doing good and feeling good – that keeps us motivated because we get a positive emotional outcome.

"Like the research results suggest, more people are now making the switch to a flexitarian diet and cutting down on their meat intake, which is more environmentally friendly. It's no longer 'Doing Without', but 'Doing Better'."

A spokesman from Rustlers, added: "We wanted to create a delicious and exciting vegetarian burger that doesn't lack on taste by exploring world flavours – while still being convenient and without compromising on enjoyment.

"Whatever your reasons for trying more veggie products this year, there are certainly more delicious products out there than ever before. So it's a great time to experiment."

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