Young people aged 18 are ditching meat ‘in record numbers’, according to new data.
The Eating Better Alliance commissioned YouGov to carry out a survey to find out if eating habits were changing amongst teenagers in response to growing concerns around meat and climate change.
According to the result, 63 percent of 11-18-year-olds said the environment and climate change was one of their most important issues for the country – above Brexit (54 percent) and healthcare (42 percent).
The results show that 25 percent of 18-year-olds are vegetarian or vegan – which pollsters put down to them having ‘more freedom to choose how they eat’ compared to their younger counterparts – just six percent of 11-year olds are veggie or vegan.
In addition, 18-year olds are more aware of the environment and climate change than younger teenagers, with more than three quarters (76 percent) of 18-year-olds considering the environment and climate change to be one of their top issues, compared to 66 percent of 11-year-olds.
According to the Eating Better Alliance, this data shows that ’18-year-olds in the UK are ditching meat in record numbers’.
Reducing meat intake
Almost a third – 29 percent of 11-18-year-olds want to reduce their meat consumption, but ‘don’t always find it easy to do’ – partly as they don’t have any say on food shopping at home.
The poll showed that those who want to consume less meat want vegan and vegetarian options made more available in school canteens.
Slashing meat and dairy consumption
This is something the Eating Better Alliance is working on – the organization is calling for a 50 percent reduction from current levels of meat and dairy consumption in the UK by 2030, and for a transition to ‘better’ meat and dairy as standard.
Earlier this year, Eating Better launched its Better by half: roadmap, ‘setting out 24 actions to be taken across five sectors to create a food environment where everybody is able to make food choices that are better for them and the environment’.
‘Serve less meat’
“We should all pay close attention to the two-thirds of teenagers surveyed who recognize climate change as the biggest issue at present,” said Simon Billing, Executive Director of Eating Better. “Their increased awareness will impact the way they eat, shop, and vote.”
Rob Percival, Head of Policy at Soil Association, said: “This survey shows that teenagers are keen for schools to serve ‘less and better’ meat.
“The Government must use the ongoing update of the School Food Standards to re-balance school meals, getting more beans, pulses and plant proteins, and more sustainable, grass-fed, and organic meat on the plate. We can’t shy away from the need to change diets if we’re serious about tackling the climate, nature, and health crises.”
‘Step up and commit’
Emily Wilson, Head of Programmes at FOUR PAWS UK, added: “We have launched Make Food Kinder aimed at helping local authorities reduce the volume of meat and animal products in their public procurement.
“We have been thrilled to see that institutions across the country have been reducing the volume of meat they are offering and in doing so helping to fight climate change.
“How public money is spent involves everybody – and we want local authorities to step up and make similar commitments and help us achieve a healthier more sustainable future.”