Time for a Change? the Horsemeat Scandal Has Prompted a Huge Rise in Queries to the Vegetarian Society. Committed Carnivore Abbie Wightwick Also Puts in a Call
Byline: Abbie Wightwick
Tucking into meat seems less appetising by the day. First the horsemeat scandal and now an Oxford University study shows risk of heart disease, the UK's biggest killer, is 32% lower in vegetarians.
Latest official figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest just 2% of adults in the UK are vegetarians, but anecdotal evidence and a new study suggest the true figure may be higher.
A survey of 2,257 adults by researchers Consumer Intelligence says 6% of adults know someone who has turned vegetarian as a result of the horsemeat crisis, almost a quarter of shoppers say they'd now buy less processed meat and one in five is buying less meat in general.
It's all good news for The Vegetarian Society, which reports a massive rise in hits to its website in the past week.
"We've seen a 40% increase in visits to our main website compared with the same period last year," says society spokeswoman Su Taylor.
"We've seen lots of interest and conversations on social media about the food industry and processed food."
Anyone turning vegetarian is in esteemed company.
Famous non-meat eaters include the once burger munching former US President Bill Clinton, Welsh actress Sian Phillips and even our own St David, who shunned flesh as part of his religious beliefs.
Sue Thomas, from the Vale of Glamorgan, stopped eating meat five years ago and has been vegan for the past two.
Having cut out all meat and animal products such as eggs and milk from her diet she says she feels healthier and happier.
Sue, 62, was concerned about the welfare of animals as well as the safety of eating meat.
"The first thing was my love of animals and worries over factory farming and the way animals are treated," she says.
"I always loved animals and as a meat eater thought, 'Please don't tell me what's on my plate'. I changed because I had a lot of friends who were vegetarian and vegan and we don't know what goes on in abattoirs."
Sue, who runs Cardiff-based events company Absolutely Fabulous, recently ran a vegan food event at Penarth Leisure Centre which was so successful she is organising a second at Cowbridge Leisure Centre on April 21.
"More and more people are thinking about what they eat and where their food comes from," she believes.
Susan Burnett, a member of Chester and Clwyd Vegetarian Group for the past 30 years, has noticed a huge change in eating habits.
Where she and husband Brian once found it hard to eat out or buy a range of alternatives to meat to cook at home, she says it's now relatively easy. …