Britain saved £2.8billion by eating vegan meat in 2018, study finds

Opting for vegan meals is touted as being better for the planet and your health, but did you know it can also be better for your wallet?

According to a recent survey, Britons saved more than £2.8billion last year simply by cutting down on meat consumption. The UK is now considered the vegan food capital of the world. It launched more vegan products last year than any other country, and the driving force isn’t necessarily vegans. Flexitarians – consumers who actively reduce their meat consumption – are now the main driver of the category.

The study, commissioned by vegan and vegetarian food brand Linda McCartney Foods, looked at the eating habits of 2,000 adults living in the UK. According to the results, 26% of respondents had reduced their meat consumption in the past year. This reduction was equivalent to a modest saving of £209 per person, collectively totaling nearly £3billion for the whole of the UK.

Reducing meat consumption has also been associated with savings in health care costs, as a diet rich in plants and low in animal products is linked to significantly reduced risks of developing cardiovascular disease, l obesity and certain types of cancer. A study just published this week found that a diet high in fiber-rich foods prevents cancer and heart disease and can reduce the risk of premature death by up to 24% compared to meat eaters.

A study published late last year found that taxing meat could save taxpayers $41 billion while saving up to 220,000 lives a year.

Eating less meat would also reduce the pressure on natural resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which would have positive impacts on the economy. But it’s hard to gauge just how big those savings would be. A 2016 study suggested the world’s economies switching to a predominantly vegan diet would be $2 trillion to $3 trillion in the United States and $20 trillion to $30 trillion globally.

Veganism on the rise

The world won’t go vegan overnight, but change is happening.

“Vegetarianism has increased in recent years at a rate never seen before,” Charles Banks, director of The Food People, spoke to The Independent about the investigation. “There are a number of motivations that drive people to change their behavior, be it ethics, economics, environment, health or accessibility. It is therefore most often a combination of factors that force consumers to rethink their daily diet.

He added: “The accessibility of vegetarian and vegan food has had the greatest impact as it moves towards a more inclusive and traditional lifestyle choice.”

A third of study participants said they believed that in the next 23 years there would be more vegans and vegetarians in the UK than meat eaters.

2019 is already on to prove this point; for the Veganuary campaign, chefs Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver shared vegan menus and recipes, and a number of restaurants added vegan dishes. Pizza Hut UK kicked off the year with a vegan jackfruit pizza which it follows on Twitter with a ‘Vegan-O-Meter’.

“Meatless food is no longer just ‘regular salad'” Banks said. “It’s now fun, interesting and filled with the latest trends and flavors.”

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