One Third of Britons Has Drastically Reduced Meat Consumption

Public Domain. MaxPixel -- Vegan groceries

The annual survey by Waitrose shows that customers are also using less plastic after watching 'Blue Planet II.'

Every year British supermarket chain Waitrose releases its Food & Drink Report. The report is based on the company's millions of transactions in stores and online, as well as a survey of more than 2,000 customers. This year's report, published on November 1st, is intriguing because it highlights some major changes in the way people shop.

Most profoundly, one in eight Britons (nearly 13 percent of the population) is now vegetarian or vegan, with an additional 21 percent calling themselves 'flexitarian,' consciously reducing the amount of meat they eat. This amounts to nearly one-third of Britons, which is an enormous increase over years gone by; 60 percent of vegans and 40 percent of vegetarians say they've made the change in the past five years.

Reasons cited were animal welfare concerns (55 percent), personal health (45 percent), and environmental concerns (38 percent). Other reasons included not liking meat, meatless food tasting better, and wanting to be fashionable. (Respondents were allowed to choose more than one answer, hence the percentages adding up to more than 100.)

Regardless of individual motives, the fact that fewer animals products are being consumed is a boon for the planet. The Guardian quoted Nick Palmer of Compassion in World Farming UK:

"It's extremely encouraging to learn how many Britons are choosing to reduce their consumption of animal products. Science proves that the healthiest diet is one that is plant-heavy. By eating less meat, fish, eggs and dairy and choosing higher welfare when we do, we can all help animals, people and the planet."

A second hopeful change noted by Waitrose is a reduction in plastic use. Ever since the BBC aired its final shocking episode of Blue Planet II in December 2017, 44 percent of Britons say they have "drastically changed" their plastic use habits. (Another 44 percent say they've "somewhat changed.") People are more likely to carry refillable water bottles and reusable coffee cups. It appears they're also adopting some zero waste shopping habits, prioritizing unpackaged goods at the grocery store:

"Customers are increasingly purchasing unpackaged fruit and vegetables in our stores, too. For example, sales of loose pears are growing at 30 times the rate of bagged pears, and we expect this trend to continue."

This is good news at a time when we desperately need it. So many of the issues our planet faces seem insurmountable, but this report is a reminder that individual efforts, though small, add up over time. We are not alone; others have seen the same documentaries, read the same articles and studies, are feeling the weight of environmental grief as well. Together, meal by meal, bag by bag, we can make a difference. Indeed, it's the only way we can.

Read the full report here.