Meat makes a comeback as flexitarian gains falter

Posted: 25 January 2021 | | No comments yet

The flexitarian movement has suffered a setback during 2020, as research reveals many Brits turned to comforting favourites during the tough months of last year.

flexitarian diets have become popular

Flexitarianism can involve the occasional consumption of meat.

Despite Veganuary getting plenty of attention in 2021, new research from Mintel has revealed that the flexitarian movement has suffered a setback thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the proportion of British adults looking to cut down on meat decreasing significantly.

Flexitarian is the term used to describe those who, while eating a mainly vegetarian diet, occasionally consume meat and other animal-based products. It is perhaps the most realistic target to aim for in the bid to cut down on meat consumption in our diets.

According to Mintel, the movement had been gaining momentum for several years before 2020, yet, as with so many other aspects of life, the pandemic has put the brakes on it. In 2019, around half (51 percent) of all adults were actively limiting the amount of meat in their diets, yet this decreased to 41 percent during 2020.

The research company says processed meat product sales have increased by 18 percent, with sausages, bacon and burgers all seeing a bumper 2020 – perhaps in part down to the rise in home-cooking and seemingly endless barbecues undertaken by many of us during the summer of 2020.

“Prior to the coronavirus outbreak the meat reduction trend was gaining considerable momentum. The huge disruption, uncertainty and stress caused by COVID-19 have caused a relaxation around some health and ethics-driven habits among many people,” said Edward Bergen, Global Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel.

“It is not surprising that meat reduction has taken a temporary back seat, particularly given the increased desirability of familiar comfort food and meat is seen to really deliver here.”

Yet this is unlikely to be a continued downward spiral. Plant-based substitutes have grown in popularity consistently for some years now, and once the tough times inflicted by COVID-19 pass, Bergen is predicting a return to form for the flexitarian movement: “As the shadow of the pandemic fades, its impact in the mid- and long-term are only going to make the benefits consumers associate with eating less meat seem even more relevant and important.

“This includes those relating to sustainability and to people’s finances, health and weight management. With that in mind, the meat reduction movement is expected to rebound vigorously when the immediate risk from coronavirus has passed.”