Britons given target for meat-free days to hit climate goals as daily consumption falls

The amount of meat consumed in the UK each day has fallen by almost a fifth over the last decade, according to a new study.

The Oxford University study used data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey to assess changes in the consumption of red, white, and processed meat from 2008-09 to 2018-19.

Researchers found average daily meat consumption per capita dropped from 103.7g to 86.3g, which is a decrease of about 17%.

Red meat consumption fell by 13.7g, while processed meat consumption dropped by 7g, but Britons were eating 3.2g more white meat per day than a decade ago, the study found.

However, the researchers warned the decrease was not enough to reach the meat consumption targets outlined in Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy report.

The report – launched earlier this year – warns that meat consumption needs to be cut by 30% by 2030 to reduce methane emissions from cattle and sheep that help drive global warming, and free up land for absorbing carbon and boosting nature.

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Cristina Stewart, the lead researcher on the new study at Oxford, told the BBC: “We now know we need a more substantial reduction.

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“You don’t have to be vegetarian. Although, in general, meat-free dishes will have a lower impact.

“But if you’re someone that eats meat every day, reducing your meat consumption by 30% just looks like having two meat-free days per week.”

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Along with the environmental impact, there could also be myriad health benefits in reduced meat consumption.

While a meat-heavy diet has already been linked with bowel cancer, a review released last month determined eating too much red and processed meat also increases the risk of heart disease.

The Oxford team’s findings were published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health.

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