How many vegetarians and vegans are in the UK?

How many Brits will give up meat in 2022?

In 2022, more and more Brits are following a meat-free diet, which means they’ve chosen to become vegetarian, pescatarian or vegan.

With various food subscription services and brands now catering to plant-based lifestyles, adopting a meat-free diet has now become much easier and accessible for Brits too. We carried out our annual survey of 2,000 adults to investigate the diet habits and intentions of UK residents this year, and have analysed the cost of each option as well.

Quick overview

  • Currently, 14% of adults in the UK (7.2 million) are following a meat-free diet.
  • A further 8.8 million Brits plan to go meat-free in 2022 (the highest figure in 4 years).
  • This means that the UK could have a total of 16 million meat-free citizens at the beginning of 2023.
  • Just 2% of those who said they would give up meat in 2021 actually did so.
  • The most popular meat-free diet is vegetarianism with 3.3 million followers.
  • Younger generations are significantly more likely to follow a meat-free diet, with gen Z (aged 18 to 23) being the most likely to avoid meat already (25%) and plan on giving it up (30%) in 2022.

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How many people in the UK are vegetarian, vegan or pescatarian in 2022?

According to our survey, 86% of the population currently eat meat in their diets. This means that around 7.2 million British adults (14%) currently follow a meat-free diet.

How many vegetarians are there in the UK?
With around 3.3 million people in the UK (6%), the vegetarian diet remains the most common of the non-meat diets.

How many pescatarians are there in the UK?
The next most popular meat-free diet at the moment is the pescatarian diet, with around 2.4 million Brits (5%) opting for this diet.

How many vegans are there in the UK?
Lastly, there are around 1.6 million people in the UK who are currently vegan (3%), a number which is growing rapidly.

Kind of diet Percentage of UK following
Vegetarian 6.25%
Pescatarian 4.55%
Vegan 3.10%

How many people gave up meat in 2021?

There was a net gain of 105,000 people who started to follow meat-free diets in the UK throughout 2021, according to our research. However, this figure is under 2% of the 6.5 million people who intended to do so, which means the number of people who gave up meat in 2021 fell by 78% compared to 2020. That year, 470,000 managed to follow through with their plans – around 9% of the 5.3 million who intended to do so.

The diet that gained the most recruits in 2021 was vegetarianism, with 130,000 people joining the cause, while 52,000 people took up veganism. However, these gains were offset by a decrease of almost 79,000 pescatarians. It’s worth noting that some of these people may have been pescatarians who also gave up meat in 2021.

Kind of diet 2019 2020 2021 2022
Vegetarian 6.90% 6.55% 6.00% 6.25%
Pescatarian 4.10% 4.10% 4.70% 4.55%
Vegan 1.30% 2.10% 3.00% 3.10%

How many people plan to give up meat in 2022?

Brits are once again optimistic about cutting meat out of their diets in 2022. 8.8 million of us plan to become vegetarian, vegan or pescatarian over the next 12 months – the highest figure recorded in the 4 years that we’ve been running this research. While our previous research suggests it is very unlikely that everyone will stick to these intentions, if they did, the UK would have a total of 16 million meat-free citizens at the beginning of 2023.

Meat-free by end of 2021 Intending to go meat-free in 2022 Total meat-free by 2023
Vegetarian 6.25% 7.50% 13.75%
Pescatarian 4.55% 4.60% 9.15%
Vegan 3.10% 4.65% 7.75%

Which generation eats the least meat?

There is a clear age divide when it comes to views on eating meat. Our studies show that those aged 18 to 23 (generation Z) are currently the most meat-free generation. A quarter (25%) of generation Z said that they currently go without meat by following a pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan diet. This is a slight increase from last year’s most meat-free generation, millennials (24-42), of which 20% had adopted either a pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan diet.

Millennials are not far behind this survey – currently 18% follow a meat-free diet and they could be joined by an additional 27% throughout 2022. 9.6% are already following a different type of diet outside the main 3 meat-free diets.

Just 1 in 10 (11%) of the silent generation (aged 74+) avoid meat and only 5% plan to do so in 2022.

planned to ditch meat in 2021 plan to ditch meat in 2022
Generation Z 25.90% 29.73%
Millennials 15.50% 26.76%
Generation X 14.80% 15.97%
Baby Boomers 5.20% 5.30%
Silent Gen 4.20% 4.71%

Are there gender differences when it comes to diet?

The survey found that there are currently 5% more men than women who don’t consume meat. While this may be a slight difference, the same can’t be said for intentions to change diet. In 2022, a whopping 56% more men than women are planning to go meat-free this year (21% versus 13%). If those who intend to go meat-free stick to their plans in 2021, there will be 30% more men than women adopting a meat-free lifestyle this year (35% versus 27%).

9% of men will be going vegetarian in 2022, while just 6% of women will be doing so. Veganism is the second most popular choice for men, as 6% will be adopting this lifestyle throughout 2022 too (just 2.95% of women will be going vegan in 2022). Finally, 4% of women will be going pescatarian in 2022, just slightly lower than the 5% of men who will be doing the same.

Men Women
Plan to be Vegetarian 8.94% 6.10%
Plan to be Pescatarian 5.18% 4.04%
Plan to be Vegan 6.40% 2.95%
Men Women % difference
Currently meat-free 14.23% 13.58% 5%
Plan to ditch meat in 2022 20.53% 13.09% 57%
Total meat-free by 2023 34.76% 26.67% 30%

Which region has the most vegetarians?

By the end of 2022, more than half of Greater London could be following a meat-free diet. This is if the 27% of Londoners who intend to ditch meat in 2022 actually follow through. With almost a quarter of Londoners currently following either a vegetarian, pescatarian or vegan diet, London is already the most meat-free region in the UK.

Following London is the West Midlands, with 24% intending to ditch meat in 2022. Then East of England (19%), Yorkshire and The Humber (18%), Wales, the North West and East Midlands (16%), South West and Northern Ireland (13%), and the South East, where just 12% plan to give up meat.

On the other end of the intention spectrum is Scotland, where just 6% of the population plan to adopt a meat-free lifestyle in 2022. This means that by 2023, just 23% of Scotland will be meat-free. However, this won’t make them the least meat-free nation in the UK. That title goes to the South East, which could see just 21% following either a vegetarian, vegan or pescatarian diet by 2023.

Hover over the map below for a closer look at which regions plan to ditch the meat in 2022.

Currently meat-free Ditching meat in 2022 Total meat-free by 2023
East of England 16.58% 19.25% 35.83%
Greater London 23.81% 27.38% 51.19%
East Midlands 10.96% 15.75% 26.71%
West Midlands 16.11% 23.89% 40.00%
North East 12.35% 12.35% 24.69%
North West 10.45% 16.36% 26.82%
Northern Ireland 10.91% 12.73% 23.64%
Scotland 16.67% 5.95% 22.62%
South East 9.82% 11.64% 21.45%
South West 9.30% 13.37% 22.67%
Wales 15.46% 16.49% 31.96%
Yorkshire and the Humber 10.18% 17.96% 28.14%

Commenting on the findings, Reemul Balla, shopping specialist at Finder said:

Although the number of people who turned meat-free has dropped significantly last year, this year’s findings still show that adopting a veggie diet continues to remain popular across the country.

Meat-free diets and being ‘flexitarian’ are getting more media exposure than ever so you would expect these positive trends to continue growing. However, it’s important to be savvy and shop around to make sure you’re not falling into traps with overpriced specialty products. A little bit of research and intuitiveness in the kitchen can go a long way. It will also be worth keeping an eye on how much inflation has spiked food prices this year.

Methodology

  • Finder commissioned Censuswide 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 in December 2021.

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

Matt Mckenna
UK communications managerT: +44 20 8191 8806
matt.mckenna@finder.com@MichHutchison/in/matthewmckenna2

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