Laura Day looks into the trend for cutting out (or reducing) meat for the sake of your health. One thing’s for sure: it’s only going to get bigger, say retailers keeping a close eye on consumer preferences
To get an idea of the veggie zeitgeist, just look at the number of vegetarian cookbooks being launched, plant-based recipe delivery boxes and the 14 million Instagram hashtags. Type ‘vegetarian supper’ into google and you get 90,700,000 results (almost double the number for, say, ‘beef supper’). The Meat Free Monday movement that started in 2009 now runs in 40 countries.
Certainly, more of us now understand the impact that consuming too many animal products has not only on animal welfare but also on our health and the environment. This new awareness may be partly due to headline-worthy research, legume-loving bloggers and environmental documentaries pricking our consciences. But when did the sea change happen?
Fuelled by demand
For David Balmer, buying and product development director at Abel & Cole, the year was 2013. ‘We began seeing a trend for more vegetarian recipes and ethically sourced meat following the horsemeat scandal,’ he says. And the trend shows no sign of diminishing. ‘The demand for vegetarian cooking continues to grow and customers are looking for more inspiration,’ says David. ‘There’s also a realisation that vegetarian cooking is better value, with more people opting to batch cook for the week.’ Now 50% of the recipes in Abel & Cole’s recipe boxes are vegetarian, of which two are vegan. ‘We’re simply meeting customer demand,’ he says.