Half the UK population predicted to be vegetarian or vegan by 2040

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Dr Morgaine Gaye (pictured), food futurologist: "We can expect to see continued changes in the way consumers shop and eat."
Dr Morgaine Gaye (pictured), food futurologist: "We can expect to see continued changes in the way consumers shop and eat."

Related tags: Supply chain

Half the UK population will be vegetarian or vegan in less than 20 years, a new report has predicted.

The report commissioned by No Meat May​ – a registered charity that challenges people to eliminate meat from their diets for 31 days – also said that by 2030 it expected 15% of the population to be vegetarian or vegan. 

While meat consumption continues to rise in developing countries, in the UK it is estimated that by the beginning of next year, 16M people will be meat free, it said.

The report suggests that investment and research are at the cutting edge of new ways to produce meat alternatives which are even better for the environment including air technology and in-vitro or cultured meat. On air technology it is predicted it will come to market as a powder. 

Air technology

“We can expect to see this product first come to market as plant protein isolate, a type of powder which can be used in the production of yoghurts, plant based burgers or other ready meals using meat substitutes. Although there are currently no launch dates announced by the leading producers of Air Protein, we can expect to see something affordable on the market by 2028,” ​said Dr Morgaine Gaye, food futurologist.

Although in-vitro meat would address moral issues for some vegetarians, environmental issues for environmentalists, and also free-up land and grain supplies, there would be a number of ethical objections from a percentage of the population who would be averse to such production methods.”

The report said that Generation Z (Born between 1997 to 2012) could also be the generation to create real change and turn around Britain’s meat-eating habits.

It said that as this is the generation that has brought forward the gender-neutral debate to the fore. This means the whole notion of meat being a primarily masculine food will most certainly be affected – despite research by No Meat May also revealing that over half of Brits (51%) consider a high-carbon, unhealthy, meat-heavy diet to be masculine.

Climate change

The report showed that almost 50% of Gen Z feel ashamed to order anything containing dairy in public, and it expects this trend to continue as younger generations will avoid buying meat in front of their peers – as its consumption further becomes linked with climate change, health problems and animal welfare issues. 

The report also suggests that doctors believe that a plant-based diet could help prevent eight out of 10 of the leading causes of death and that a shift to veganism could result in 8.1m deaths fewer per year according to the PNAS (The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

Plus, it said that switching to a mostly plant-based diet would immediately reduce carbon emissions by a quarter, an essential behaviour change to save the life of the planet and ourselves. Dr Gaye stated that if we don’t start eating less meat, our planet will be uninhabitable in less than 30 years.

“With much more social acceptance normalising meals without meat, plus the extensive availability for alternatives, it follows that we can expect to see continued changes in the way consumers shop and eat,” ​added Dr Gaye. 

Related topics: NPD, Environment, Veganism

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