More people to go meat-free for May than ever before, despite being in lockdown

Jarvis Smith - My Green Pod

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Published: 1 May 2020

This Article was Written by: Jarvis Smith - My Green Pod

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The annual No Meat May campaign kicked off this week, and initial figures show a continued shift towards meat-free diets.

A record number of 25,000 people have already signed up to ditch meat for the month of May – a 150% increase on last year’s total sign-ups of 10,000 people.

The numbers suggest that more people are open to plant-based eating than ever before, and are willing to try a meat-free diet beyond the month of January, when hundreds of thousands take part in the annual Veganuary campaign.

Why to ditch meat

No Meat May urges consumers to pledge to give up meat for four key reasons: their health, the environment, for animals and to ensure a more sustainable food system for all.

Research has shown that a plant-based diet is the most significant way to reduce an individual’s carbon footprint, as well as potentially improving their health.

With over 70 billion land animals farmed for food annually, everyone who opts to undertake the 31-day challenge will save, on average, the life of one animal per day during No Meat May (including land and sea animals).

They will also reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by around 30% – or 85% if they opt to avoid all animal products, including dairy.

A meat-free lockdown

Organisers of No Meat May have been astounded by the record number of sign-ups to this year’s campaign during the current coronavirus crisis. Links between animal agriculture and zoonotic diseases such as Covid-19 could partly explain the record number of sign-ups.

‘It’s hard to say what the Covid-19 effect is, and whether people are drawing the connection between intensive factory farms and public health concerns, or simply want to learn a new way to cook, and experience the benefits of plant-based eating whilst in lockdown.

‘We aim to survey participants on their reasons for taking the No Meat May pledge this year, to discover whether the current crisis is having a major effect on people’s eating habits.’

RYAN ALEXANDER
No Meat May’s co-founder

Plant-based food sales up

Several meat-free brands have already reported sales of their plant-based foods have increased since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

New research by Mintel states that the number of meat-eaters reducing or limiting their meat intake stood at 39% in 2019, up from 28% cent in 2017.

‘In March, our sales shot up around 37% growth over March 2019, which was almost exactly twice the growth rate that we saw in January and February, before the Covid-19 outbreak.

‘Health, concern for animals and environmental reasons all play a part in driving this upward trend, and with the advancements in flavour and texture of plant-based products, this is also a major reason for the category’s expansion.’

SETH TIBBOTT
Founder and chair of plant-based brand Tofurkey

Staying healthy in quarantine

In 2020, No Meat May is providing free, expert guidance on cooking delicious plant-based meals, as well as dietary advice to stay extra strong and healthy during this period of quarantine and social distancing.   

The campaign will provide a continuous stream of plant-based recipes, cooking demonstrations and live feeds from a range of top chefs and dieticians (with a few celebrity cameos likely along the way).

The aim of No Meat May is to help those cooking at home to eat well and feed their families with healthy, affordable, immunity-boosting meals during this global lockdown period.

The No Meat May effect tends to continue long after the month of May is over, with 94% of past participants going on to reduce their meat consumption and one third reporting a life changing experience.

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