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NEARLY HALF of the UK POPULATION (42%) believe that a meat-free diet is the healthier option.

Even meat-eaters are reducing their meat intake.

More people say they are flexitarian (14%) than pescatarian (3%), vegetarian (3%) and vegan (1%) combined. Adding this to the 73% of the UK population who call themselves meat-eaters, it means almost nine out of 10 people eat some meat.

More than a quarter (26%) of those who call themselves meat-eaters agree they are actively trying to reduce their meat consumption.

While that’s well below the 69% of flexitarians who say the same, it shows a significant effort to reduce intake even among those who habitually eat meat.

But neither group tends to be planning to cut it out entirely, as only a quarter of flexitarians say it’s likely they’ll be vegetarian in a year’s time and 8% that they’ll be vegan. The numbers are just 3% and 2% respectively among meat eaters.

This suggests most people make a conscious decision about the amount of meat they consume.

Young women are most likely to give up meat.

Young female meat-eaters and flexitarians are the ones most likely to give up meat entirely: 15% of 18- to 24-year-old women who eat meat intend to do so, versus 11% of men of the same age and 5% of women over 55.

Ethics are important to those giving up, meat-eaters and flexitarians who plan to stop eating meat entirely are much more likely than the average consumer to be conscious of ethical concerns. Almost all say they always make an effort to recycle (96% versus 82% of the general population), and 71% make an effort to buy fair trade products (versus 35% of the population).

They are also more likely than average to want brands they interact with to be socially responsible and will stop buying from ones that hold views they disagree with.

Animal welfare is the biggest reason why these consumers are looking to quit meat, followed by a variety of health concerns.