Rising costs of meat produce
It’s no secret that simply existing has become more expensive over the last year as the UK grapples with inflation, supply chain issues, and debt caused by the pandemic.
The cost of food has not been exempt from a rise in prices, and it is causing people in the UK to rethink their dietary habits, no matter what their income.
A study published in August of last year found that 28 percent of Brits were actively cutting down on meat consumption due to the rising cost of living. Digging deeper, it found that the highest 10 percent of earners were eating 10 percent less meat per week than a decade ago, while the lowest income groups were eating 19 percent less.
Overall, the figures suggest that the average quantity of meat consumed by Brits at home dropped from 976 grams per week in 2021 to around 854 grams a week in the year leading up to March 2022.
This amount may not seem like much at face value, but it is hugely impactful when this new behaviour has been adopted by people all over the country.
In more great news for the planet, red meat – the most carbon-heavy produce of all – is disappearing from the menu in many British households. It’s no wonder, when the market price of a beef steak rose by 10 percent over the last year.
Even the cost of the global favourite (and traditionally cost-friendly) chicken has gone up by 9 percent. The same is happening with fish consumption, with people consuming 135 grams of seafood per week – down from 148 grams before the pandemic.
People aren’t just cooking less meat at home, either. They’re being mindful when eating at restaurants, ordering fewer burgers, kebabs, and meat. The data shows that takeaway meat consumption dropped significantly in the year 2021-2022, matching levels not seen since the 1980s.
This data shows that the cost of food has a massive impact on how we decide to meet our nutritional needs. But what about environmental concerns?
Ethical and environmental concerns
In the UK, around 1.2 billion land-dwelling animals are raised and killed for food each year.
The vast majority of these animals grow up inside factory farms, where they are forced to live in cramped environments and are later killed using brutal methods.
Awareness about the dark side of the meat production industry is growing thanks to popular documentaries and campaigns driven by animal rights organisations.
Not only are people beginning to ask deeper ethical questions about the journey their steak took to land on their plate, but they’re also becoming enlightened about the environmental cost that comes with eating meat.
Raising cattle and other farm animals requires having large areas of land for grazing. This need for space is driving deforestation and biodiversity loss in some of the most nature-rich areas of the world, including the Amazon rainforest.
The loss of these natural wonders is upsetting from a moral standpoint, but the consequences related to climate change are also dire. Not only does the clearing of global forests release tons of stored CO2 into our atmosphere, it also leaves us without vital carbon sinks which do the natural job of helping to keep our planet cool.
While entirely vegetarian and vegan diets haven’t been adopted across the UK by the majority, this downward trend of meat consumption is a huge win for the planet regardless of whether it is driven by cost or social and environmental concerns – or both.