Millions of flexitarian Brits plan to eat more vegetarian food this year in a bid to be more environmentally friendly – and impress people on Instagram.
Research of 2,000 adults found 31 per cent plan to eat more meat-free products in 2021 compared to last year.
Londoners are embracing plant-based food more than any other region (46 per cent), followed by those in the west midlands (34 per cent) and the south west (32 per cent).
But while four in 10 have the environment at the forefront of their mind, others are more concerned about their social media profiles (13 per cent).
One in five want to be seen to be ‘doing their part’ in Veganuary, while 45 per cent simply don’t feel the need to eat meat every single day.
Almost four in 10 (39 per cent) also acknowledged there are now good meat free options available.
The average adult reckons more than a quarter of their meals in January will be meat-free – equating to more than 1.2 billion meals across the UK – with this month likely to see more vegetarian meals eaten than at any other time of the year.
And those aged 18-34 will eat the least meat.
It also emerged 28 per cent of adults will deliberately decrease their meat intake this year, but 69 per cent said they love meat too much to give it up full time.
A spokesman from Rustlers, which commissioned the research following the launch of its Moroccan vegetarian burger, said: “In recent years we’ve embraced new lifestyles and adopted different attitudes towards diet, with reducing our meat intake firmly on the agenda.
“Of course, you do not have to give up meat to enjoy a vegetarian snack or meal, and it seems as though more people identifying as flexitarian is likely in 2021.
“January is always a popular time to try reducing our meat, with a number of people likely to be taking on Veganuary or trying to use the new year as a time to try something new.”
The study also found that this time next year, 31 per cent would hope to consider themselves a flexitarian, with 38 per cent believing they are more likely to go flexitarian than ever before.
More than half of those polled said they thought vegetarian meat alternatives taste a lot better now than they used to, with meat-free burgers, sausages and mince the most popular.
It also emerged that dinner is a more common meal to experiment with than lunch.
Food psychologist Greg Tucker said: “January is a new start and people feel more motivated to try something different, usually for themselves and for the world around them.
“Ultimately it is this virtuous circle – doing good and feeling good – that keeps us motivated because we get a positive emotional outcome.
“Like the research results suggest, more people are now making the switch to a flexitarian diet and cutting down on their meat intake, which is more environmentally friendly. It’s no longer ‘Doing Without’, but ‘Doing Better’.”
A spokesman from Rustlers, added: “We wanted to create a delicious and exciting vegetarian burger that doesn’t lack on taste by exploring world flavours – while still being convenient and without compromising on enjoyment.
“Whatever your reasons for trying more veggie products this year, there are certainly more delicious products out there than ever before. So it’s a great time to experiment.
FOOD PSYCHOLOGIST’S TIPS ON BEING FLEXITARIAN:
1. Select products that boast exciting spice blends and flavours for more enjoyment.
2. Alternate veggie and meat days, or simply start with a couple of veggie days a week so you don’t feel like you’re missing out.
3. Roasting veg makes it taste more exciting while retaining nutrients.
4. Keep things varied – eat a bigger range of veg to keep the interest up.
5. Make sure you’re eating the ‘rainbow’ – make sure your plate of food is a range of bright colours.
6. Texture matters – make sure that variety includes different textures such as soft tomatoes and crunchy carrots.
7. Don’t obsess with it being a meal made of veggies – focus on creating a really flavoursome dish using seasoning, herbs and different cooking techniques.
8. Start slowly and pick something veggie that you associate with your favourite meal e.g. a burger except with a falafel patty, or a veggie-topped pizza.
9. Make a veggie meal more of an event – incorporate exciting sauces such gochujang, wasabi, chutneys, or kimchi to fire up the taste buds.
10. Make sure your vegetarian main includes a delicious side like homemade chips.