COVID led people to eat more plant-based foods – and stick with it

Pandemic triggered uptick in plant-based food consumption, ProVeg survey finds

21-Dec-2022 - Germany

A new report published today by global food awareness organisation, ProVeg International, has found that a significant number of people began eating more plant-based foods during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. The report, called “How did Covid-19 impact diets around the UK?”, also found that the switch to more plant-based eating continued as the pandemic subsided.

Photo by LikeMeat on Unsplash

ProVeg International

Photo by LikeMeat on Unsplash
ProVeg International

In September 2022, ProVeg International surveyed 1,000 UK residents about their eating habits before, during, and after the pandemic in order to compile the report. The results were conclusive: our diets have changed, and it seems for the better. 

The survey found that, during the height of the pandemic:

  • 46% of people agreed or strongly agreed that their eating habits had changed substantially;
  • 39% said they ate a greater variety of foods;
  • 26% agreed or strongly agreed that they ate fewer animal-based foods;
  • 26% of people agreed or strongly agreed that they ate more plant-based foods;
  • 18% of people agreed or strongly agreed that they had both increased consumption of plant foods and decreased consumption of animal products; and 
  • Of this 18%, 70% agreed or strongly agreed that they had maintained their new eating habits since the end of COVID restrictions, while only 28% agreed or strongly agreed that they had returned to their old eating habits

“These results clearly illustrate a move towards eating more plant-based foods and a move away from animal-based products,” Stephane Jaczniakowska-McGirr, Head of Corporate Engagement at ProVeg, said. “With this in mind, the future certainly looks bright for dietary change in favour of more plant-based foods in the UK,” she said.

COVID impacted all areas of the food-supply chain, affecting farm production, food processing, logistics, and the transportation of supplies to stockists. As a direct result, consumers had to alter their purchasing habits and preferences, swapping some of their favourite foods for other options, and even trying some foods for the first time. Health motivations and a desire to enact compassion also led people to change their diet, along with the change in food availability.

“Although Covid-19 caused many negative impacts on people’s lives, it’s great to see that the pandemic has had a positive impact on people’s diets. It’s promising to see that many people increased their plant-based consumption during lockdown and have maintained this change moving forward,” Jaczniakowska-McGirr said.

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