Advertisement
UK markets closed
  • FTSE 100

    8,155.72
    -49.17 (-0.60%)
     
  • FTSE 250

    21,067.68
    -166.48 (-0.78%)
     
  • AIM

    784.13
    -3.54 (-0.45%)
     
  • GBP/EUR

    1.1866
    -0.0009 (-0.08%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.2910
    -0.0037 (-0.29%)
     
  • Bitcoin GBP

    51,411.73
    +2,028.58 (+4.11%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    1,374.07
    +43.17 (+3.24%)
     
  • S&P 500

    5,505.00
    -39.59 (-0.71%)
     
  • DOW

    40,287.53
    -377.49 (-0.93%)
     
  • CRUDE OIL

    80.25
    -2.57 (-3.10%)
     
  • GOLD FUTURES

    2,402.80
    -53.60 (-2.18%)
     
  • NIKKEI 225

    40,063.79
    -62.56 (-0.16%)
     
  • HANG SENG

    17,417.68
    -360.73 (-2.03%)
     
  • DAX

    18,171.93
    -182.83 (-1.00%)
     
  • CAC 40

    7,534.52
    -52.03 (-0.69%)
     

Meat eaters more likely to buy plant-based foods not marketed as vegan

Vegan substitutes can help reduce the carbon footprint caused by meat and dairy products
Vegan substitutes can help reduce the carbon footprint caused by meat and dairy products - Tara Moore/Getty Images

Customers are more likely to buy plant-based foods when they are not labelled as vegan, a study has found.

Research has revealed that red-meat eaters are much more likely to purchase products that are meat and dairy free when they are not marketed as vegan produce.

When a food gift basket was labelled “vegan”, 20 per cent of people chose it; however, 44 per cent of people opted for the same basket when it was marked “healthy and sustainable”.

More consumers are turning to a plant-based diet as they are thought to have greater health benefits and be more environmentally sustainable.

However, researchers have found that more people opt for vegan foods if they were marketed differently.

ADVERTISEMENT

Researchers from the University of Southern California conducted a national food choice experiment to determine how people respond to labels such as vegan and plant-based compared to healthy, sustainable, or healthy and sustainable.

In the study, presented at the Society for Risk Analysis 2023 Annual conference in Washington DC, all participants chose between a food gift basket without meat and dairy and another with meat and dairy.

Participants were assigned one of the five labels for their meat and dairy free choice.

They found that the food gift basket without meat and dairy was less likely to be chosen when its label focused on its content, which stated vegan or plant-based, rather than its benefits, boasting that it was healthy, sustainable or both,

Only 20 per cent of participants chose the food basket without meat and dairy when it was labelled vegan, while 27 per cent chose it when it was labelled plant-based.

About 42 per cent of participants chose the food basket without meat and dairy when it was labelled healthy, 43 per cent chose it when it was marked sustainable, and 44 per cent chose it when it was tagged healthy and sustainable.

Dr Patrycja Sleboda, assistant professor of psychology at City University of New York, said of the results: “This labelling effect was especially pronounced among individuals who identified as red-meat eaters and held across socio-demographic groups.

“Thus, changing labels is a low-cost scalable intervention for promoting healthy and environmentally sustainable food choices.”

The UN Environment Programme said this month that vegan substitutes can contribute to reducing the carbon footprint caused by meat and dairy products, particularly in richer countries.

Animal products account for between 14.5 and 20 per cent of global emissions as a result of direct methane emissions, feed, changes in land use and global supply chains.

Meat consumption on the rise

However, despite a global trend towards veganism, meat consumption in the UK appears to be on the rise.

The average person in Britain ate 136Ib of meat in 2022, compared with 123Ib in 2012, according to Statista data published in August.

Polling by YouGov in July of this year found that 2 per cent of the British population were on a plant-based or vegan diet, and 5 per cent described themselves as vegetarian.

Recent data from the Food Standards Agency found that 41 per cent of respondents always, or mostly, bought food which had a low environmental impact, down from 49 per cent in the middle of 2020.

Buying British food a high priority

In contrast, 60 per cent of people said that they always, or mostly, bought food that was produced in Britain, making it a higher priority for consumers.

A review released in Germany last month suggested that replacing meat and dairy with grains, nuts, beans and olive oil reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

The NHS website advises that vegans should include “fortified dairy alternatives” such as soya drinks and yogurt, beans, pulses and other proteins, and other supplements to ensure a healthy diet.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 1 month, then enjoy 1 year for just $9 with our US-exclusive offer.