National Vegetarian Week: The rise of meat-free eating

As its National Vegetarian Week we wanted to share a story with you around the rise of meat-free alternatives…

Allied Market Research shows that the meat-free market is to reach $5.2 billion globally by 2020 which demonstrates a real step change for meat-free. Leading meat-free protein brand Quorn™ has witnessed this growth directly, with sales of its product increasing by £6.3 million in the UK alone in 2017 (versus 2016 sales).

To understand the motivations for consumers, Quorn commissioned some research which reveals Britons are finally sitting up and taking notice of health warnings, as a huge 70% of British adults claim to have revamped their typical weekly diet to become healthier, according to a poll of over 2,000 Brits, commissioned by Quorn Foods.

Brits are now officially ditching the scales and prioritising their health gains and wellbeing over weight loss and excessive dieting. 64% of those polled cited improving their health as the main reason for their dietary changes, compared to only 51% who admitted to weight loss as a key motivation.

Indeed, it seems the previously emerging ‘flexitarian’ and healthier meat reduction diets are now officially entering the mainstream, with 61% of the nation already eating meat-free dishes week in, week out. Just 28% claim to need meat in the majority of their weekly dishes, with 83% of British families now enjoying a meat-free dinner at least once a week. When asked why we’re making the major change and embracing meat free eating as a day to day habit – 36% of those polled did so for health reasons, closely followed by a quarter (26%) citing eating better for planet and animal welfare. Price and cost came in third place (13%).

Recent research conducted by Kantar support the claims, with the World Panel revealing Britons choosing to consume less meat had risen by 2.2 million in the past two years alone.

The wider health claims made by those polled are also encouraging. The most common dietary change was to eat more fruit and vegetables (43%), whilst over a third of adults have cut down on their sugar (36%) intake in the past two years. Over a quarter (27%) have reduced their portion sizes.

Coupled with people wanting to eat meat-free for health reasons, people are also buying into the interesting trend for the rising popularity of fermentation as a food trend. From craft beer, to kimchee, to yoghurt, consumer demand for fermented products is booming, due to the health and environmental advantages offered by the process and increased consumer desire to make more sustainable choices.

Quorn™ was an early pioneer of fermentation and since the 1960s has used the process to produce its innovative protein, using a nutritious and natural fungus which is then fermented. The resulting product – Mycoprotein™- is high in protein, high in fibre, low in saturated fat, and contains no cholesterol. It also has a 90% lower carbon footprint than meat-based protein sources as the process requires much less land and water to produce.

In a 2016 study published in British Journal of Nutrition, results demonstrated that Quorn™ Mycoprotein™ actively reduced the energy intake and improved the glycaemic profile of overweight and obese volunteers, proving the health properties of the product. Beyond the health benefits, it can be stated that the fermentation process behind Quorn™ offers one of the most exciting food science breakthroughs through making possible the ability to feed the global population.