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Finder.com’s annual diet trends research found that 8.8m adults across the UK planned to become vegetarian, vegan or pescatarian over the next year, the highest figure recorded by the report in four years.

Overall, Finder reported a net gain of 105,000 people who had started to follow meat-free diets in the UK throughout 2021. Top of the list of diets was vegetarian (uptake of 130,000 people) followed by veganism (up 52,000), offset by a decrease in 79,000 pescatarian.

Adopters down in 2021

However, the number of people who adopted a meat-free diet was just 2% of the 6.5m consumers who said they would do so in the previous year.

Ultimately, the number of people who gave up meat in 2021 fell by 78% compared to 2020 – year 470,000 managed to follow through with their plans, around 9% of the 5.3m who intended to do so.

Younger people are more likely to give up meat, with 25% of Generation Z (18–23 year olds) the most likely to avoid meat already, while a further 30% said they planned to give it up.

These numbers fell to 18% to 26% respectively among Millennials (26-41 year olds), with just one in 10 of the silent generation (aged 74+) avoiding meat.

Still popular

Finder researcher Reemul Balla said that, while the number of people who turned meat-free had dropped significantly since last year, this year’s findings still showed that adopting a vegetarian diet continued to remain popular across the country.

“Meat-free diets and being ‘flexitarian’ are getting more media exposure than ever so you would expect these positive trends to continue growing,” ​she added. “However it’s important to be savvy and shop around to make sure you’re not falling into traps with overpriced specialty products.

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