New consumer research has found that a majority of Manchester students want to embrace plant-based food.
The data comes from plant-based platform MeatFreed, which offers student users discounts on animal-free foods. It also provides access to a community of like-minded learners.
Key findings include 69 percent of students polled wanting to try more animal-free meals. In addition, 23 percent revealed a desire to be fully plant-based. The only caveat is that students’ financial circumstances need to allow for a dietary transition.
Data also highlighted the biggest stumbling blocks to wider adoption of plant-based meals. Chief amongst them was the belief that there are too few grab-and-go meals options. A total of 48 percent of people cited it as their main issue.
Students’ thoughts on sustainable diets
Of those asked, 35 percent of Manchester students want to eat more sustainably. Meanwhile, a quarter claim to be already making proactive choices. However, the perceived prohibitive costs of environmentally friendly foods is a major hurdle.
Almost half (41 percent) of students said that the price of plant-based meals to cook at home made them hesitant to buy them regularly. The idea of eating out seemed similarly tough. More than a third (36 percent) of people assume they would struggle to locate a vegan meal option in restaurants. The same applied to takeaways. With this in mind, 91 percent of respondents said they want more plant-based options when eating out of home.
The cost of living’s impact on meat
While students in Manchester appear open to the idea of eating less meaty meals, the UK’s cost of living crisis may spur them on out of necessity. Research published in June this year revealed that one-third of UK consumers are removing meat from their diet. In the face of rising inflation, the cost of animal products has risen exponentially, forcing the move.
Wider Europe is experiencing a shift in costs as well. The Netherlands reports that plant-based meat is cheaper than animal protein for the first time. Meanwhile, oat milk now costs less than whole cow’s milk in Germany.
At present, 43 percent of Manchester students are concerned that spiraling living costs will also impact their diet. Furthermore, 60 percent think their eating habits will change drastically, as they find certain products suddenly out of their price range.
“It’s not surprising that students are growing more concerned about the cost of living and rising food prices as it’s everywhere in the media, and trying to find sustainable meal choices can be trickier than ever in all that noise,” Patrick Huang, MeatFreed co-founder said in a statement.
UK students demand more plant-based options
It’s not just students in Manchester who want to see animal-free options being easier to source.
Earlier this year, a cohort of students from 20 UK universities joined forces to demand that all catering facilities on their campuses be converted to 100 percent plant-based.
The group, which is adding more colleges to its roster, hopes to see meaningful action by education authorities by September 2023. The demand is motivated by climate concerns and fears that establishments are being slow to take a stand.
This concern appears to be confirmed by student network Plant and People’s annual sustainability university league. The table shows that less than half (46 percent) of locations are on track to meet their self-appointed emissions targets.