According to a new study about UK consumers trends, the average daily meat consumption decreased by approximately 17·4 g per capita per day between 2008–09 and 2018–19, with people consuming less red and processed meat, more white meat, and the same amount of fish. This represents a fall of about 17%.

Published in October 2021 in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet (under the title “Trends in UK meat consumption: analysis of data from years 1–11 (2008–09 to 2018–19) of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey rolling programme”) Cristina Stewart MSc, Carmen Piernas PhD, Brian Cook PhD and Prof Susan A Jebb Ph.D. from Oxford University studied changes in trends in meat consumption using data from more than 15,000 people in the National Diet and Nutrition Survey rolling programme.

They found that, from 2008 to 2019, the average meat consumption per capita per day decreased from 103·7 g to 86.3 g per day, including an absolute reduction in red meat consumption of 13·7 g, an absolute reduction in processed meat consumption of 7·0 g, and a 3·2 g increase in white meat consumption.

People born in 1960–79 and 1980–99, and white individuals, were the highest meat consumers. Meat intake increased over time among people born after 1999, was unchanged among Asian and Asian British populations, and decreased in all other population subgroups. They found no difference in intake with household income or gender (by contrast with other studies).

According to this research, the proportion of meat consumers in the population decreased by 3% points during the period studied, whereas the proportion of individuals identifying as vegetarian or vegan increased by 3% points.

In the scientific paper, the authors write: “There is increasing evidence that high intakes of processed meat, and to a lesser extent red meat, lead to an increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer. WHO has classified processed meat as a carcinogen and red meat as a probable carcinogen to humans. The relationship between red-meat and processed meat intake and colorectal cancer led the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) to recommend that adults in the UK with high intakes (>90 g/day) should reduce their intake to a maximum of 70 g per day.”

The UK Committee on Climate Change has called for a 20% reduction in consumption of beef, lamb, and dairy by 2050. However, these results show that we have not reached this target yet. The lead researcher Cristina Stewart told the BBC: “We now know we need a more substantial reduction.”

Indeed, we do. To solve the animal welfare, environmental, health and social justice problems we are suffering, we need a 100% reduction of consumption of all animal products as soon as possible. We need a vegan world.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.