UK diet trends

More than one in five Brits will be meat-free by 2020

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In an attempt 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 a survey of 2,000 adults to investigate the diet routines of UK residents and the financial costs of each option.

The UK’s current diet vs UK diet intentions by the end of 2019

According to the survey, 88% 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 (1%). This means around 6.5 million British adults are currently eating meat-free.

The UK’s current diet

Diet Percentage
Already a Vegetarian 6.90%
Already a Pescatarian 4.10%
Already a Vegan 1.30%
Aren't following a specific diet 87.70%

The UK’s diet intentions by the end of 2019

Despite the relatively low numbers of non-meat eaters currently, many intend to change their diets over 2019. Almost 12 million Brits (22%) 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 10% will be following a vegetarian diet, 7% will follow a pescatarian diet and 6% will be following a vegan diet.

Intention Percentage
Already/Intend to be Vegetarian 9.90%
Already/Intend to be Pescatarian 6.85%
Already/Intend to be Vegan 5.55%
Aren't/ Don't intend to follow a specific diet 77.70%

Diet changes

The diet that will have the most new recruits in 2019 looks set to be veganism, as 2.2 million intend to take up this lifestyle. This would see the total number of vegans increase by a remarkable 327%, to a total of 2.9 million people.

Type of diet Current population Intend to start diet by end of 2019 Population by end of 2019 % change
No-specific diet 45,957,733 -5,240,334 40,717,398 -11%
Vegan 681,243 2,227,142 2,908,386 327%
Vegetarian 3,615,831 1,572,100 5,187,931 43%
Pescatarian 2,148,537 1,441,092 3,589,629 67%

Despite the potentially huge increase of vegans, vegetarianism remains the most popular of the major diets. It already has 3.6 million followers and an additional 1.5 million people are looking to ditch the steak in favour of greener pastures in 2019. This would bring the total vegetarian population up to 5.2 million.

Aspiring pescatarians are also on the rise. In fact, the pescatarian diet is likely to see numbers increase by a whopping 67 percent this year, bringing the total number of pescatarians to 3.6 million.

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 26 percent 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 an additional £4.6bn on vegan diets, £2.8bn on pescatarian diets and £2.4bn on vegetarian diets over a year. This would equal a shift of £9.9bn from omnivore diets to meat-free ones.

UK total yearly cost of each diet

Year Vegetarian Pescetarian Vegan Non-specific
November 2018 5,600,000,000 4,200,000,000 1,400,000,000 92,000,000,000
November 2019 8,000,000,000 7,100,000,000 6,000,000,000 81,500,000,000

Which generations are ditching the meat?

Generationally, the percentage of people who eat meat, and don’t currently intend to change, increases with age. While 94 percent of those in the silent generation (born before 1945) and 86 percent of baby boomers eat meat, this figure drops to under two thirds (63%) for post-millennials (born after 1996).

Generation Percentage of meat eaters
Silent (Born 1928-1945) 94%
Boomers (Born 1946-1964) 86%
Generation X (Born 1965-1980) 74%
Millennials (Born 1981-1996) 71%
Postmillennial/Generation Z (Born after 1996) 63%

Which regions of the UK are ditching the meat?

London (30%) and the North East (30%) of the UK see the highest proportion of residents either currently or intending to be meat-free by 2019. The survey suggests that three in every ten people in these locations will be meat-free by the end of the year. In contrast, East Anglia sees the lowest percentage of meat-free dieters, with only 13% of residents taking part in vegetarian, vegan or pescatarian diet.

Region Percentage
East of England 13%
East Midlands 18%
London 30%
North East 30%
North West 22%
Northern Ireland 24%
Scotland 20%
South East 22%
South West 19%
Wales 24%
West Midlands 24%
Yorshire and the Humber 19%

“”With the rise of vegan-friendly products such as Greggs’ vegan sausage roll, it’s important to be savvy and shop around to make sure you’re getting the best prices. Like any diet, there are ways to avoid 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 Brexit may impact the price of food that we import into the UK.””

– Jon Ostler, UK CEO at

Methodology 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 between 7 and 13 November 2018.
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

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