Meat-free lunch?Ethical Food & Drink News & Features
Snapshot research by Eating Better has found that consumers trying to eat healthily and reduce their impact on the environment will struggle to find a choice of sandwiches that fit the bill.
Only 19 out of 535 (4%) sandwiches and wraps from eight supermarkets and four high street sandwich chains were plant-based (meaning they did not contain meat, fish, cheese or eggs as main ingredients) – a slight increase on last year’s survey. In 2015, Eating Better found 17 out of 620 sandwiches surveyed from the same retailers were plant-based.
Again this year, the vast majority (77%) contained meat or fish, despite the growing trend for flexitarianism and people reducing the amount of meat in their diets.
High street choices
The research found that Pret a Manger and M&S provide the most plant-based choices (five or six plant-based options). Limited choices are offered by Boots and EAT (three or four plant-based options) while Waitrose, Subway, Morrisons, Co-op, Tesco and Sainsbury’s were considered to offer ‘poor choice’, with only one or two plant-based options available. No plant-based options were found in Asda or Greggs.
According to the British Sandwich Association, UK consumers spent £7.85bn on 3.5bn sandwiches last year. In British Sandwich Week, Eating Better is calling on companies to provide a better balance within their sandwich, wrap and flatbread range in line with new government advice to reduce consumption of animal products (particularly red and processed meat and dairy) and add more pulses and vegetables to our diets.
The survey also identified companies that are improving their range. Pret a Manger is increasing its vegetarian and plant-based offering as part of its ‘Not just for veggies’ range currently being promoted across its stores. More than 40 newly developed products are being trialled in an all-vegetarian pop-up shop in June.
Tesco plans to launch seven new veggie sandwiches (including three plant based) in June. EAT says it will be introducing new vegetarian and vegan products to menus over the coming months and M&S says it has identified flexitarianism as an ‘important customer trend’ and is looking to better cater for them. Waitrose welcomes the campaign as an ‘excellent way of getting people to think more about diversifying their protein consumption’.
‘It’s great news that some companies are responding to the growth in the flexitarian eating market and have plans to expand their ranges. But on the whole customers seeking healthier sandwiches with a lower environmental impact are being let down by slim pickings. We’re calling on all food businesses to step up to the plate and offer a better range of delicious plant-based sandwiches made with vegetables and pulses.’
Eating Better’s #MeatFreeLunch campaign is encouraging people to swap their lunchtime meat, fish, cheese or egg sandwich for a vegetable-based option, or try making their own.
With farm animals responsible for around 15% of global greenhouse gases (GHGs) – equivalent to the amount of GHGs from cars – reducing meat and other animal products in our diets is a simple way to eat smart for the planet.
Evidence also shows a predominantly plant-based diet is healthier, too – cutting heart disease, obesity and cancer.
Click here to find out more about Eating Better and its #MeatFreeLunch campaign.