Things haven't been great carnivores recently. Aside from all the people on your Facebook feed pontificating about Cowspiracy changing their life, there was the announcement last year that steak could impact brain health and that even the organic beef you've been buying to assuage your guilty, burger-loving conscience may not meet animal welfare standards.
Then in October came the final nail in the bacon-lined coffin: the news that the World Health Organisation (WHO) would brand processed meats as carcinogenic—y'know, like cigarettes or asbestos. Delicious.
In the face of such adversity, it's little wonder that Britain's meat-eaters appear to be losing their appetites. According to the recently released British Social Attitudes report, nearly one third of Brits are now eating less meat.
Commissioned by the Vegetarian Society and surveying 2,878 British adults, the report found that 29 percent of participants had reduced their consumption of meat in the past year. An additional 9 percent were considering cutting out meat altogether and about 3 percent were already vegan or vegetarian.
Power to the plant-based eaters!
Ian Simpson from NatCen Social Research, the social research institute that carried out the survey, said: "A significant number of people in Britain, amounting to many millions, told us that they have reduced their meat consumption over the past 12 months. Many people are clearly concerned about eating too much meat and the primary driver of this concern appears to be concerns about health."
Indeed October's WHO damning assessment of processed meats seems to have touched a nerve with even the most bacon sandwich-obsessed Brits: 58 percent of those cutting back on meat said they were doing so for health reasons. Twenty percent said it was an attempt to save money, while another 20 percent said that their avoidance of chowing down on anything with a face came from concerns about animal welfare.
NatCen researchers also uncovered the gender split of Britain's new veggies, finding that 34 percent of women and 23 percent of men had reduced their meat intake in the last year. This female-skewed adoption of a plant-based diet is reflected in previous US studies, which found that 60 percent of America's 7.3 million vegetarians are female.
While tofu salad may have yet to shake its "girly" image, the report's results are being welcomed by Britain's vegetarians. Speaking to EatOutMagazine.co.uk, Vegetarian Society chief executive Lynne Elliot said: "This report very much reflects what we see every day in our work: that there is an increasing awareness of the issues relating to our food choices and that has resulted in a large number of people reducing the amount of meat they eat or cutting it out altogether."
No word yet on whether all these newbie vegetarians are able to maintain their meat-free lifestyle after a few pints and a walk home past the kebab shop.