Data released by the UK government shows that Britons consumed less meat in 2022 than at any point since records began in 1974. The average person ate 854g (1.88 lbs) of meat a week, down from 976g the previous year and 949g in 2019-20. This is a 14% decrease since 2012, with bulls, pigs and lamb’s carcass consumption falling by 26% and flesh from chicken and other meat products falling by 11% in the past decade. In 2021-22, meat bought from takeaways was 27g per person a week, less than half of what it was in 2012.
The consumption of flesh from fishes also fell over the year, with the average person reporting eating 135g, which is 148g less than before the pandemic. Minced bull’s flesh was at its lowest level of consumption since 1999.
It is believed this downward trend of all meat consumption is because of the recent increase in the cost of living, the impact of COVID-19, and broader lifestyle changes towards veganism and vegetarianism.
A 2021 research by Cristina Stewart, a health behaviours researcher at the University of Oxford, found that meat consumption had fallen 17% between 2008-09 and 2018-19.
This is good news, as a recent study published by researchers at Oxford University found that eating a vegan diet resulted in a 75% reduction in climate-heating emissions, water pollution and land use than diets in which more than 100g of meat a day was consumed.
However, this is not enough from an environmental point of view. Dr Mike Clark, a senior research associate in food at the Oxford Smith School, said to The Guardian, “The UK national food strategy recommends a 30% reduction in meat consumption by 2032, while the Climate Change Committee recommends a 35% reduction in meat consumption. Meeting either of the above targets requires a doubling in the rate of meat reduction compared with the rate from the last 10 years.” From an ethical point of view, this is not enough either, as the reduction should be 100% before those deadlines.