The call has been made by the Eating Better report entitled The Future is flexitarian: companies leading the way. Flexitarians are people who are eating an increasing number of vegetarian options as part of their diet.
The YouGov survey of 1,715 adults, conducted for the report, found that almost half of consumers (44%) were willing to cut down on meat in their diet or cut it out, or were already committed to doing so.
It found that young people were driving the flexitarian trend towards eating less meat. They were more willing than older people to cut back on meat and had a much higher awareness and acceptance of the environmental impacts of meat eating.
Over twice as many (46%) young people (aged 18 to 24) agreed that “producing and consuming meat/livestock products has a significant negative impact on the environment” compared with older people (20%) (aged 65 and over).
It highlighted the moves made by pub chain JD Wetherspoon to offer more plant-based food options.
The report called for food venues to develop menus that provide a greater choice of plant-based foods, more exciting flavours, affordable pricing and to place the meat-free dishes higher up on the menu.
It also said that chefs should consider describing plant-based dishes without using the words vegetarian/vegan and use words such as ‘fresh', ‘lighter’ or ‘delicious’. It said its own evidence revealed a “substantially increased” uptake of dishes with this description. It also called on venues to ensure that their chefs were trained in plant-based recipe and development.
“As more people are eating less meat, we welcome the steps that an increasing number of food businesses are taking to respond, and we encourage them to go further,” said Sue Dibb, co-ordinator of Eating Better, a group of organisations from the health sector, environment and animal welfare.
“But many food companies are missing out on the business opportunities offered by the huge rise in flexitarian eating – we encourage them to get involved. Many organisations within the Eating Better alliance are working directly with companies to help them on this path.”