Brits cutting back on animal products

A huge number of Brits have reduced the amount of animal products they’re consuming since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research by The Vegan Society.

A new survey, that focused on changing consumer habits over the last 12 months, has found one in five (20%) people have reduced the amount of meat they are eating while 12% say they’ve minimised their eggs and dairy intake. Seven per cent of respondents revealed they have cut down on all three, meaning that 1 in 4 (25%) have actively cut back on some form of animal products since the first lockdown.

It also found that more than a third (34%) are spending more time with their companion animals, and 32% are thinking more about their personal impact on the planet.

In a second survey aimed at those who had cut back on animal products, 35% said they were mainly motivated by health concerns, with that figure rising to 39% for those aged 55+, while 30% said the environment was their primary motivation. One in four (21%) said it was down to animal rights issues.

Combined, this means 86% of people cutting back on animal products during lockdown, are doing so for the same three primary motivations people give in their decision to go vegan – health, environment, and animals. Other motivations included animal products being too expensive (8%) or not being available in shops (5%).

So what food products are people buying instead? Well, 54% revealed they’d bought meat alternatives for the first-time during lockdown with an impressive 78% saying they will continue to buy them again in future. For those who had specifically said they had reduced their meat intake over lockdown the results were even better with the majority (80%) stating they’ll continue to do.

Plant-based milks are also proving to be a hit with 36% of respondents trying oat milk for the first time and of those 67% saying they’ll purchase it again post-lockdown. Again, for those who had specifically said they were reducing their dairy intake, oat milk was even more popular, with 43% buying it for the first time and 69% revealing they plan to keep buying it too. Meanwhile, 60% of those (30%) who bought coconut milk for the first time in lockdown, plan to keep buying it in future.

When it comes to vegan staples such as pulses, including lentil and chickpeas, 32% bought them for the first time in the last 12 months and of those, 74% said they’ll get them again in future. This was the highest percentage for future repeated purchase.

The latest findings mirror the results of a similar survey conducted by The Vegan Society during the first lockdown last year. The 2020 survey discovered that one in five Brits had cut down on meat consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic while 15% had reduced their dairy/egg intake over the lockdown period.

However, unlike the more recent data, out of those who had reduced their meat or dairy consumption, 41% did so due to their preferred product not being available on the supermarket shelves, while 43% chose to reduce their meat consumption out of concern for health, environmental or animal rights reasons.

Reacting to the news, Louisianna Waring, insight and commercial policy officer, said: “It’s fantastic to see that not only are people consciously cutting back on animal products, but that this trend has continued over the last 12 months. It’s no surprise that the pandemic has inspired so many consumers to make the switch to plant-based alternatives and adopt a more planet-friendly diet.”

“COVID-19 has certainly made people think twice about what they’re eating and where it’s coming from. This is highlighted by the large number of people cutting down on animal products because of their own health concerns.”

The news follows the release of Veganuary’s latest official figures which show a record breaking 582,000 people around the globe signed up with 85% of the 2021 participants revealing they plan to at least halve their intake of animal products permanently.