We're celebrating the annual National Vegetarian Week (16-22 May) this week. Every year, The Vegetarian Society launches a dedicated campaign to encourage more people to reduce their meat consumption and spread awareness of climate change.
As one of the best things we can do for our planet is to eat less meat, this year's campaign motto is: "Choose veggie! Choose climate! Choose wildlife!"
It appears that more and more Brits are aware that their dietary choices matter not only for their health but also for the planet.
According to a recent You Gov survey, more than a quarter of Brits (27%) are considering eating less meat – with health and climate change given as the main reasons to do so. For younger generations, the environment is even more critical. Half of the respondents (50%) under 34 years old said they were strongly motivated by climate change.
More than a fifth of people (21%) who said they were considering reducing the amount of meat they eat gave animal welfare as their main reason.
A plant-based diet is better for the planet as it contributes significantly less to global warming. It produces a lot fewer carbon emissions than a diet that is rich in meat and dairy. A diet based on unprocessed whole foods is a healthier, more environmentally-friendly and more affordable option, especially for households on tight budgets.
Climate change negatively influences wildlife and causes the risk of extinction for many species. The Vegetarian Society awareness campaign aims to educate that when you choose to eat healthy plant-based whole foods, you can help protect animals like colourful puffins, red squirrels, hedgehogs, and bees.
When asked, "Which, if any, of the following animals, if they were to be lost through extinction, would make you consider reducing your meat consumption or giving up meat altogether?" 40% of those not already following either a vegan or a vegetarian diet said protecting bees from extinction could convince them, with dolphins (34%), turtles (28%) and hedgehogs (27%) coming next on the list.
Richard McIlwain, Chief Executive of the Vegetarian Society, commented: "We aren't surprised to see climate change as a key driver for people reducing the amount of meat they eat. The government's own Climate Change Committee suggests we should be eating 20% less meat by 2030 and the recent National Food Strategy, led by Henry Dimbleby, suggests this figure should be even higher at 30%. The good news is, if you currently eat meat every day, you can achieve a 30% reduction by going meat-free on just two days a week. What better time could there possibly be than National Vegetarian Week to give it a go?!"