'Generation moderation' leading retreat from meat
Younger shoppers dubbed 'Generation Moderation' are cutting back on the amount of meat they eat, suggests new research.
The study shows switched on young consumers are changing the way they eat and drink and the High Street is responding.
Generation Moderation don't see binge drinking and eating to excess as socially acceptable.
Experts at Plate for the Planet conducted research that identified 'Generation Moderation' - so-called due to their attitudes towards eating and drinking, especially meat, being dramatically different to older people.
James Murphy, a social trend analyst and forecaster who conducted the research, said: "We found that the younger generation really is culturally in tune with the concept of moderation.
"To them it's no longer socially acceptable or amusing to binge drink and eat to excess.
"Resisting over-indulgence and observing moderation is all about self-respect - keeping their looks and preserving their physiques."
The findings show that a 'less and better' approach to meat is becoming more popular among a significant proportion of the population.
Whether it's for environmental or health reasons, younger generations are embracing real alternatives to meat, with nearly half (48 per cent) of 16 to 19-year-olds and 40 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds agreeing that a meat free diet, or one where we eat less meat, is better for the environment.
The findings emerge at a time when the High Street is starting to respond to consumption changes.
Veggie 'butchers' are starting to emerge, selling products that mimic meat but contain no animal flesh.
One retailer, the Vegetarian Butcher, which originated in Holland, has expanded across Europe. Its premise is to ensure that meat enthusiasts don't have to miss out on anything if they leave meat out of their diet for a day or more each week.
Their counters are brimming with meat-like products that look, feel and taste like the real deal, but are made from plant protein.
The new wave of butchers is already in Britain, with a stockist of the products already serving up meat-free treats in Leeds called Hyde Park Book Club.
Jack Simpson, 36, co-founded Hyde Park Book Club with his business partners Chris Walton, also 36, and 37-year-old Anthony Smith.
The trio have created a successful art and event space specialising in meat-alternative meals. It is the only establishment in the UK currently stocking products from the Vegetarian Butcher.
Jack, who has been an advocate of eating less meat since he was six years old, said: "We offer burgers, hot dogs, wraps and chicken skewers amongst other things - all made from vegetable 'meat', innovative meat substitutes with a spectacular bite and texture.
"Our customers and meat eaters in particular say it is the best alternative to meat they've ever had."
Jack believes Generation Moderation holds the key to food sustainability and is even teaching older generations to broaden their horizons and think differently about food, drink and the environment as a whole.
He said: "The young people we come into contact with are incredibly savvy when it comes to food and drink.
"They want to know where everything comes from, how it is sourced and what's in it.
"Here at the Book Club we don't go heavy on the vegetarian thing at all - we've created a relaxed atmosphere which is inclusive.
"We were very careful when we set up late last year not to exclude customers just because everything we offer is meat-free.
"People of all ages come in to enjoy art and live performances and with that goes quality food.
"The fact that it isn't meat is irrelevant and that's how we like it.
"We've seen first-hand that moderation has really taken hold with the younger generation, which has a different outlook to previous generations towards everything from eating and drinking to politics and globalisation.
"Technology and the internet have fuelled this further and will continue to do so."
Claudia Bowler, 29, a designer from County Durham, started reducing her meat consumption seven years ago.
She said: "I started cutting down on meat when I was travelling around India in my early twenties and just not eating much of it because it wasn't ready available.
"I didn't miss it that much to be honest. I had the best steak ever when I got back and then haven't really eaten much meat since.
"This is in line with how I live my life - I live on a houseboat and shop when I need to so try to limit the amount of packaged goods I buy.
"It's important not to feel like you're being put in a box because of how you feel.
"People tend to be wary of anything with an 'ism' on the end as they may feel scared they're committing to something but it really doesn't have to be like that at all."
She added: "It's important for everyone to be aware of what they're consuming - eating and drinking in moderation needn't be that hard but I appreciate for older generations who have been brought up and educated in a different way, it can be more of a struggle.
"However, it's interesting that my parents have changed their own eating habits because of me and reduced the meat in their diet which I would never have anticipated.
"I haven't forced it on them either, it's just something they've picked up on."