Young people are finding it difficult to eat less meat despite expressing a desire to do so.
Research by the Eating Better alliance found that whilst 29% of 11-18 year old meat eaters want to reduce their meat consumption, 84% still eat meat three times a week or more.
Survey respondents who wanted to eat less meat said they wanted more meat-free options to be available in school canteens, while their lack of influence over food shopping at home was cited as another factor that limited their ability to reduce their consumption.
Eating Better commissioned the research in partnership with the Soil Association and Four Paws to find out if eating habits were changing amongst teenagers in response to growing concerns around meat and climate change.
Nearly two thirds (63%) of 11-18 year olds said the environment and climate change was one of their most important issues for the country putting it ahead of both Brexit (54%) and healthcare (42%).
Climate change awareness is higher among 18-year olds than 11-year olds with 76% of 18-year olds considering the environment and climate change to be one of their top issues, compared with 66% of 11-year olds.
Eating Better said the greater freedom of older children to make their own food choices was reflected in the fact that 25% of 18-year olds said they are vegan or vegetarian compared with just 6% of 11-year olds.
“We should all pay close attention to the two thirds of teenagers surveyed who recognise climate change as the biggest issue at present,” said Simon Billing, executive director of Eating Better. “Their increased awareness will impact the way they eat, shop and vote.”
The Eating Better alliance is calling for a 50% reduction from current levels of meat and dairy consumption in the UK by 2030, and for a transition to ‘better’ meat and dairy as standard.