Research conducted by the FixOurFood project and the University of York, UK, on behalf of supermarket chain Co-op, has concluded that a radical change in UK diets over the next 30 years is likely to take place, which may include moving from eating mammals to eating insects. If that is the case, this would involve many more animal deaths to produce the same amount of cow and pig flesh people consume today. The commercialisation of lab meat the researchers predict could also help to maintain the meat-eating habits of the population, preventing people from becoming vegan and making them less likely to have reservations about eating insects.  

The good news is that the researchers suggest that the rising temperatures may lead to avocados and olives being suitable crops in the south of England, and traditional preserving methods such as pickling could see a resurgence. Urban farming may also become more prevalent. Ingredients such as Azolla (aquatic ferns) may become widespread in everything from burgers to pasta. However, the researchers also anticipate that the consumption of meat will not stop, and consumers may just switch from one type of meat to another. 

Bob Doherty, Director of FixOurFood and Dean of the School for Business and Society at the University of York, said, “The last 30 years we have seen scientific leaps into more sustainable produce which were unimaginable to most back in 1994. From lab-grown meat to vertical farming, the future of food is set to revolutionise how we eat. By 2054, British people will have edible insects on their dinner plate, and we may see the crushing up of crickets quicker than wholegrains.”

The Co-op recently published its latest Responsible Retailing report, which shows that 72% of consumers have become more concerned about ethical and sustainable food, but the percentage of consumers saying they would be willing to pay more for ethical and sustainable products has decreased from 62% in 1994 to 54% in 2024.

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Jordi Casamitjana
“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’.