There has been much talk in the media from climate activists, suggesting that meat production is a major contributor to greenhouse gasses, which is damaging the environment.
A United Nations climate change report on food and land found that adopting a balanced plant-based diet can make major changes in the fight against climate change.
Our poll suggests that almost half of all meat-eaters probably agree or at the very least are willing to give it a try at some point.
The UN report also said that an estimated 23% of greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, livestock, and land and forests needed to raise them.
Results of our poll suggest quite a substantial number of people are either vegans, trying to go vegan, would consider a plant-based diet or at the very least think reducing meat consumption is the way forward.
Of the almost 1000 respondents to the poll, 31% (289 people) said there is 'no way never' that they would even consider a vegan diet, while 30.5% (282 people) selected 'they would consider switching to a vegan diet'.
14% of people said they are already vegans, which seems like a lot considering most studies found that just over 1% of Brits are vegans. Either our poll went a bit viral on a vegan forum/website or there are quite a lot of people out there that think they are vegans because they don't eat slabs of steak or sausages and bacon.
21% of respondents took the middle ground option and said they think reducing meat consumption is the best solution rather than stopping completely.
1.9% of people said they don't think there is a problem with the planet. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if most people disagree.
If you see the vegan trademark symbol on cosmetics, clothing, food, drink and household items, you can be certain of their vegan credentials.
What is a plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet is a diet that is made up of only foodstuffs that grow in the ground. Or put more simply, a diet that excludes all animal products, including animal fats such as butter and cheese.
It's also becoming easier to enjoy a healthy plant-based diet as more vegan products are landing on our shelves. According to The Vegan Society, in 2019 they registered a total of 14,262 products with The Vegan Trademark. That's an awful lots of choice for people who want to adopt a vegan diet.
They go on to say that every year over 53,000 vegan products from more than 2,500 companies are registered globally and it doesn't stop at just food products, that number also includes 22,000 cosmetics and toiletries.
It's easy to identify products that are certified vegan, just look out for the Vegan Trademark. Several major brands carry the visible marking such as Alpro, Asda, Aldi, Costa Coffee, Flora, LUSH, Mars, Nestle, New Look, Caffe Nero and many others.
Is a plant-based diet healthy?
Yes, there is no doubt that a plant-based diet done properly is good for your health as long as you consume minimally processed foods and a lot of whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans.
A plant-based diet can also save you bundles of cash on your grocery bills. Meat and animal products is often the most expensive item in most people's baskets, so eliminating that from your shopping list will knock the cost of your food bill for six. You will need to buy more plant-based products than usual but they are much cheaper so the savings will be very obvious to you.
It's handy to have a good vegan cookbook in the kitchen for inspiration. This Vegan One Pound Meals cookbook from Miguel Barclay is a great place to start. It features delicious budget-friendly plant-based recipes all for £1 per person.
The downside to having a healthy plant-based diet is, you will need to be very good in the kitchen, in order to swerve heavily processed foods because making tasty and nutritious meals that eliminate meat as your main source of protein requires special attention to foodstuffs that are high in protein, mainly beans and nuts.
A little bit of effort goes a long way in the kitchen. A simple search on google for easy vegan recipes will deliver 1000s of results. Just pick one and give it a go.
Plus, almost all restaurants (big chains and independents) now have very extensive vegan options on their menus. Make sure to have a close look at the menu because sometimes items that are vegan are not labelled vegan. If you like the look of something that you think may be vegan friendly, just ask the waiter if the item is made with any animal products and they should be able to answer that question for you.
Vegans and vegetarians may also have deficiencies in B12 vitamins, mainly because most of the food items that contain this essential vitamin are found in animal products. It may be wise to take a B12 Supplement if embarking on a vegan diet. There are also a few other essential vitamins that you may need to supplement a vegan diet.
Price of meat may be on the way up
If you love your bacon or can't survive without steak, the odds seem to be against you. As more and more people turn to a plant-based diet, market forces will shift and the cost of animal products will go up as demand drops.
Water useage in food production
Another key driving force behind the movement to go vegan is the impact on water resources to rear meat products.
Livestock farming requires huge volumes of water which heavily outweigh the water requirements of plant based food farming.
Beef for example uses almost 2,000 gallons (9,000 litres) of water to produce just one pound (half a kilo) of meat. So to produce the 200g ribeye steak on your plate, farmers have had to use up more than 2,000 litres of water.
As you can see from the chart above, pork, butter, cheese and chicken also require a vast amount of water to produce.
It seems inevitable that meat consumption will have to be reduced by at least 50% over the next 20 years to make it sustainable.
This is already happening in many parts of the world without the intervention of legislation and although UK meat consumption is quite high, it is in a steady and consistent year-on-year decline, due in part to the awareness and vegan diet movement.
Meat alternatives that look and taste like meat
A solution that could bring down meat consumption at a more accelerated rate is the fast-growing technology behind plant based and lab grown meat products.
One leader in the field of lab-grown meat is The Good Meat Company. They were one of the very first to produce cultured meat for sale. They say they provide real meat without tearing down a forest or taking a life. At the moment, their innovative products are only available in selected countries but if you keep an eye on their website, you can find out when their protein packed lab meat will be available in the UK.
There are now sizeable companies who are producing either meat type products from 100% plant products or real meat products grown in a lab from a single stem cell of real meat.
Certainly, the plant-based meat substitutes have the edge on lab-grown meat because there is nothing artificial about them and we have been consuming similar products for quite some time, the most famous of which is Quorn.
However, lab grown meat arguably could lead the way in terms of sales of meat alternatives once the technology has been perfected and proved to be safe.
A balanced diet that includes meat products is still and will probably be for the foreseeable future, the recommended way to stay healthy.
In years to come we will have to reduce consumption of animal products, which isn't a bad thing considering we already eat too much of it.
For now enjoy what you like eating but be mindful of the impact and resources used to produce the food you see on your plate. Bon appetit.