Some eight million Brits no longer eat meat, a survey has found, with one in four planning to reduce their meat consumption in the next year.
Young people are driving the meat-free trend, the research showed, with younger consumers more likely to have concerns about the ethics of meat.
Just under four million people specifically identify as vegetarian, the study suggested, a figure more than three times higher than the Vegetarian Society found in 2012.
The survey of more than 2,000 people found that six per cent called themselves vegetarian, four per cent pescetarian and two per cent vegan, trade magazine The Grocer reports.
Lucia Juliano of Harris Interactive, who carried out the research, said that ‘persistent media campaigns promoting plant-based eating’ were contributing to the rise in meat-free diets.
‘This is particularly apparent among younger consumers: 35 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds plan to reduce their meat consumption in the next 12 months,’ she said.
Customers aged between 18 and 44 were the most likely to have ‘concerns about the ethics of meat’, the study found, with one in six of the overall population having such concerns.
It comes after retail analysts found earlier this year that almost one in three evening meals contain no meat or fish amid the rise of vegetarians and so-called ‘flexitarians’.
Sales of spinach, cherries and aubergine also grew strongly compared to the prior 12 months, with sales up by 43 per cent, 25 per cent and 23 per cent respectively.
The figure will have been boosted further by the Veganuary event, in which athletes and celebrities encouraged people to try a plant-based diet for a month.