Food for thought: Is the UK willing to fake it just ‘til we make it?

Five in ten Brits say they would eat a plant-based substitute for meat, putting the UK ahead of the global average (four in ten). But how willing are we to make a long-term change to our diets?

New research has shown that Brits are ahead of the global curve with their views on plant-based alternatives to meat. The findings come from a Global Advisor report on views on food, which considers the responses of survey participants from 29 countries. 

In May 2018, scientists behind the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet declared that avoiding meat and dairy products was the single biggest thing an individual could do for the environment. As a consequence of rising concern about the environmental and health impact of our diets, cross-country initiatives like Veganuary and meat-free Monday move from counter-culture to the mainstream. 

British supermarkets and major food outlets have also followed suit. In fact, the UK launched more vegan products in 2018 than any other nation. 2019 has not disappointed, either. 

In January 2019, Gregg’s bakery launched a vegan sausage roll that caused such a stir on social media that many disappointed customers went empty-handed at the outset. The firm has since launched – by popular demand - a ’vegan sausage roll finder’.  

Supermarket giants have also seen a dramatic increase in vegan and vegetarian food sales and continue to scope out ways to diversify their offering. In March 2019, Sainsbury’s became the first to launch a tempeh product range to the UK and European market, as an alternative to tofu.

The report shows that we are adventurous, with 49% of Brits saying they would eat a plant-based substitute for meat. Brits are also increasingly likely to seek out local produce with 51% agreeing that they would prefer to eat locally even if it reduced their options. 

Brits still prefer meat

Despite these positive messages, it looks like the current popularity of meat substitute products has more to do with the perception that ’plant-based‘ implies a more healthy and sustainable food source, than a willingness to change long-term. Just 19% of Brits said they would prefer a vegetarian diet. This may also be in part because we are skeptical of diets, with 69% of us agreeing that diet plans ultimately fail.

Kelly Beaver, Managing Director, Ipsos Public Affairs, said:

It isn’t surprising that more than 40% of those surveyed are open to trying a meatless product - the real threshold is whether they’d actually change their diet.

Full report available here:

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