UK diet trends 2020

12 million Brits will be meat-free by the end of the year.

Updated

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In an attempt to preserve animal life, as well as improve their own personal wellbeing, more and more people are following a meat-free diet, which means they’ve chosen to become vegetarian, pescatarian or vegan.

We carried out our annual survey of 2,000 adults to investigate the diet habits and intentions of UK residents and have analysed the cost of each option as well.

The UK’s current diet and how it has changed over the past 12 months

According to the survey, 87% of the population currently eat meat in their diets. Of the non-meat diets, the vegetarian diet is the most common (7%), followed by the pescatarian diet (4%) and then the vegan diet (2%). This means around 6.7 million British adults currently follow a meat-free diet.

While the number of vegetarians and pescatarians has remained very similar to last year, Finder’s research estimates that the number of vegans in the UK increased by 419,000 (62%) over the past 12 months.

However, overall it seems not many were able to stick to their diet over the past year. Of those who said they would cut out meat by the end of 2019, only 5% (236,000) have managed to stick to their new diet.

The UK’s current diet

Diet Percent
Total vegetarian 6.55%
Total pescatarian 4.10%
Total vegan 2.10%
Total meat free 12.75%
Not following any diet 87.25%

The UK’s diet intentions by the end of 2020

Despite the relatively low numbers of non-meat eaters in the population remaining the same, many others intend to change their diets over 2020. 12 million Brits (23%) say they will follow a vegetarian, vegan or pescatarian diet by the end of this year. If these people follow through with their plans, around 1 in 10 (11%) will be following a vegetarian diet, 7% will follow a pescatarian diet and 4% will be following a vegan diet.

Diet in 2020 Percent
Total vegetarian 11.35%
Total pescatarian 7.35%
Total vegan 4.15%
Total meat free 22.85%
No diet intentions 77.15%

Specific diet changes over 2020

The diet that will have the most new recruits in 2020 looks set to be vegetarianism, as 2.5 million intend to take up this lifestyle.

The biggest change statistically though is veganism. If the 1 million people who intend to become vegan this year actually do so, this would be an increase of 98% compared to last year.

Pescatarianism is set to grow by 80%, while there will be a significant decrease in the number of meat eaters, with 5.2 million giving it up this year, which is an 11% reduction.

Type of diet Current population People who intend to follow this diet Population by end of 2020 % change
No-specific diet 45,721,918 -5,292,738 40,429,180 -11.60%
Vegan 1,100,470 1,074,269 2,174,739 97.60%
Vegetarian 3,432,419 2,515,361 5,947,780 73.30%
Pescatarian 2,148,537 1,703,109 3,851,646 79.30%

Which generations are ditching the meat?

Millennials are the most meat-free generation at the moment – 15% of this generation said that they currently go without meat by following a pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan diet. However, by 2021, gen Z will have overtaken millennials, with 35% of gen Z being meat-free compared to 32% of millennials.

Only 9% of the silent generation are currently meat-free and a further 3% plan to go meat-free by 2021, making them the least veggie generation.

Generation Percent ditching meat
Postmillennial 13.89%
Millennials 14.74%
Generation X 13.79%
Boomers 10.57%
Silent generation 8.86%

Are there gender differences when it comes to diets?

The survey found there are currently 230,000 more females than males who don’t consume meat (3.9 million vs 3.7 million). However, more men than women are planning to go meat-free this year (11% vs 9%).

Intention Female Male
Planning to go meat free 8.84% 11.44%
Already meat free 14.57% 10.82%

Cost of each diet

Many people embark on a new diet for health and lifestyle reasons and often forget to think through the financial implications of the change. The reality is that what you eat can have a direct impact on your wallet.

It’s good news for vegetarians, who have a diet that’s 26% cheaper than a meat-inclusive one, meaning they can pocket an extra £457 every year. It’s not so great for vegans, who have the most expensive diet overall, coming in at £2,073 annually. Interestingly, a pescatarian diet is £29 cheaper than a diet that also includes meat.

Yearly cost of each diet per person

Diet Cost per year
Vegan Diet £2,073
Normal Balanced Diet £2,002
Pescatarian Diet £1,973
Vegetarian Diet £1,545

When you look at the costs on a national scale you can see the huge financial impact of changing consumer trends. If everyone followed through with their dietary plans in 2019, Brits would spend a total of £4.5 billion on vegan diets, £7.6 billion on pescatarian diets and £9.2 billion on vegetarian diets over a year.

“Although quite a lot of people seem to have struggled to make the permanent switch to a meat-free diet over the past 12 months, this year’s findings echo our previous research in showing that adopting a veggie diet is a high priority for the UK.
“Meat-free diets and being ‘flexitarian’ are getting more media exposure than ever so you would expect these positive trends to continue growing. If you don’t eat meat already, or are thinking of doing so, then Finder’s recent study into ‘the most vegan-friendly city in the UK’ showed that most cities have a good range of options available for vegans.”

– Georgia-Rose Johnson, shopping and travel specialist at finder.com

Methodology

Finder.com commissioned Onepoll to carry out a nationally representative survey of adults aged 18+.
A total of 2,000 people were questioned throughout Great Britain, with representative quotas for gender, age and region.
The research was conducted December 2019.
The cost of each diet was calculated using the BBC Good Food balanced diets.
For each diet, breakfast, lunch and dinner over a week were averaged to get the daily cost.
The cost of each meal was calculated based on Tesco single serving costs of ingredients.

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK communications manager

T: +44 20 8191 8806
matt.mckenna@finder.com@MichHutchison/in/matthewmckenna2

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