According to official statistics, the number of pigs slaughtered for meat in the UK fell to 10 million in 2023. Last year, 1.1 million fewer pigs were killed for meat than in 2022, which makes 2023 the year with the lowest number of pigs slaughtered in the UK since 2013. Factors including wet weather and a longer-term downward trend in demand for meat may explain this decline. It is not clear whether the increase in the number of vegans in the UK has had any effect on this reduction.

This data is consistent with other reports that showed a downward trend in meat consumption, as 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. As UK meat consumption has fallen the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has spent £4 million this month on an advertising campaign that aims to get younger people to eat more meat.

Despite the fall in pigs killed for human consumption, the number is still very high, with about 10 million individuals killed in a single year for food. Farmed pigs are forced to live in poor conditions all over the world, and around two-thirds live on factory farms, where the conditions are much worse. Sows selected for breeding are forcibly impregnated twice a year via artificial insemination, and placed into “farrowing crates” around a week before they give birth. 

“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’.