Nearly a third of Britons have reduced their meat consumption over the last year, according to the British Social Attitudes survey.
Pollsters found 29 per cent of people had reduced their consumption of meat in the last year, nine per cent said they were considering reducing their meat intake or cutting it out entirely, and about three per cent were already vegetarian or vegan.
Vowing to ditch steaks and burgers in favour of a vegetarian lifestyle may have crossed your mind for ethical reasons or because of concerns about red meat and health.
So, what actually happens to your body when you stop eating meat?
1. You lose weight
A team at George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington in the US recently tried pinpoint how much weight a person loses if they switch from being an omnivore to a vegetarian.
The research, which reviewed previous studies and was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, showed particpants who cut meat out of their diets lost around 10lbs on average without monitoring their calorie intake or increasing the amount they exercised.
“The take-home message is that a plant-based diet can help you lose weight without counting calories and without ramping up your exercise routine,” Neal Barnard, M.D., lead author of the study and an adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University, said at the time.
2. Your gut bacteria will change
The saying goes you are what you eat, and that relates to your digestive system as much as any other part of your body.
A 2014 study exploring the difference between the gut bacteria found in omnivores, vegans and vegetarians found differences in all three.
However, the biggest variation was between omnivorese and vegans – who don’t consume any animal products whatsoever.
Researchers at City University of New York found that vegans had more protective species of gut bacteria.
3. You could become deficient in nutrients
A balanced vegetarian or vegan diet can provide enough nutrients with enough planning. But it can be harder to get enough iron, vitamin D and vitamin B12, according to the NHS.
The body recommends eating enough pulses, such as beans and lentils, nuts, fruit, dark green vegetables, wholegrains, and cereals with fortified irons to get enough of the substance.
Vitamin B12 can meanwhile be found in yeast extract products such as Marmite, fortified breakfast cereals, and soya products.
Eggs, fortified fat spreads, cereals and some milks can be a source of vitamin D.
Food trends in 2016
Food trends in 2016
1/11 Celeriac root
We had a kale obsession in 2015, but 2016’s vegetable sine qua non is predicted to be the knobbly celeriac root. Celeriac milk (Tom Hunt at Poco in Bristol serves it with winter mussels and wild water celery), celeriac cooked in Galician beef fat (from Adam Rawson of Pachamama, hot new chef in the capital) and salt-baked celeriac (to be found in Matthew and Iain Pennington’s kitchens at The Ethicurean in the West Country) are just a few examples.
2/11 Middle Eastern food
The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook (£24.95, Phaidon) by grand-dame Salma Hage, author of the bestseller The Lebanese Kitchen (whose halva is pictured here), is out in April
© Liz & Max Haarala Hamilton
3/11 Non-alcoholic cocktails
Grain Store mixologist Tony Conigliaro has created Roman Redhead, a riot of red grape juice, beetroot, pale ale and verjus, and Rose Iced Tea (black tea, rose petals, anise essence, pictured here)
The discerning will be slurping Hepple gin – from chef Valentine Warner and cocktail guru Nick Strangeway – which is punctuated with bog-myrtle nuances
5/11 Argyll and Bute
Restaurant followers are getting in a froth about Pam Brunton in Scotland, who opened the Inver restaurant in Argyll and Bute to acclaim last year
6/11 Andy Oliver’s Som Saa
One of the most eagerly awaited restaurants of 2016 will be the permanent incarnation of Andy Oliver’s remarkable pop-up Som Saa opening very soon in east London. Oliver, who worked at Thai god David Thompson’s Nahm in Bangkok, raised a whopping £700,000 through crowdfunding, and is renowned for his piquant Thai flavours and obsessive attention to detail, including in his home ferments and DIY coconut cream
© Adam Weatherley
Another ruminant in vogue is venison, with Sainsbury’s doubling its line for 2016. It provides a protein-packed punch, with B vitamins and iron, and it’s low in fat. Its entry into the mainstream is in part thanks to the Scottish restaurant Mac and Wild, just opened in London, whose Celtic head chef Andy Waugh (who also runs the Wild Game Co) has been touting it as street food for years (his venison burger pictured here)
From Brett Graham’s The Ledbury to Angela Hartnett’s kitchens at Lime Wood Hotel in the New Forest, Cabrito is the go-to goat supplier among the chef cognoscenti (roasted loin of kid pictured here) – but this year, domestic cooks can get in on the action, as Sushila Moles and James Whetlor of Cabrito offer their meat through Ocado
Mike Lusmore / mikelusmore.com
Coffee sage George Crawford is launching the much-anticipated Cupsmith with his partner, Emma. Crawford believes that 2016 is the year purist coffee will finally meet the masses; Cupsmith’s mission will be to make craft coffee as popular as craft beer on the high street. The company roasts Arabica beans in small batches, improving its quality – but sells it online, at cupsmith.com, in an approachable way: expect cheerful packaging and names such as Afternoon Reviver Coffee (designed for drinking with milk – no matter how uncouth, most of us want milk) and Glorious Espresso
10/11 120-day-old steak
Hanging meat for extremely long lengths of time has become an art. In Cumbria, Lake Road Kitchen’s James Cross is plating up 120-day-old steak (pictured here). The beef is from influential “ager” Dan Austin of Lake District Farmers, who is currently investigating the individual bacterial cultures that go into this maturing process
11/11 Lotus root
Diners can expect root-to-stem dining - cue the full lotus deployed by the Michelin-starred Indian Benares in its kamal kakdi aur paneer korma
4. Your risk of developing cancer could drop...
A recent World Health Organisation report classed processed meat as carcinogenic, and so products such as bacon and salami found themselves categorised alongside formaldehyde, gamma radiation and cigarettes. Red meat was also labelled as “probably” having cancer causing properties.
Eating just a 50g portion of processed meat – or two rashers of bacon a day - increases the risk of bowel cancer by 18 per cent, the experts concluded.
However, while this sounds like a significant rise, the 18-per cent rise in the risk of bowel cancer the IARC scientists warned of is from the base level that around 6 in every 100 people in the UK will get bowel cancer – not in total for each person.
Therefore, the rise would translate to one extra case of bowel cancer in all those 100 lifetime bacon-eaters.
5. ...as well as your chance of having heart disease
Scientists recently found that red meat is linked to heart disease. A study be Lerner Research Institute in the US showed that carnitine, a nutrient found in the food, sets of gut microbe reactions which contribute to the development of heart disease.
“This adds to the growing body of data reinforcing a connection between red meat, carnitine ingestion and heart disease development,” said lead author Stanley Hazen, MD, PhD, Vice Chair of Translational Research for the Lerner Research Institute and Section Head of Preventive Cardiology & Rehabilitation, according to a report by the Cleveland Health Clinic.Reuse content