Italian vegetables

Almost 80 per cent of Britons acknowledge that they should be eating more fruit and vegetables and less meat, according to a new study.

The research, which was released today by the Vegetarian Society ahead of National Vegetarian Week 2013 (20-26 May), also claims that the popularity of meat products is having a detrimental impact on 5 A DAY consumption.Of those surveyed, 43 per cent agreed with the statement and mentality of “real men need meat”, with young adults (56 per cent) being more likely than the over-65s (32 per cent) to hold this view.

Furthermore, 67 per cent of respondents said that they knew at least one adult who hardly eats any vegetables – a figure that rises to 87 per cent for the 18-24 age group.

“Historical associations of power, privilege and virility with eating meat remain evident in cultural norms and media representations of masculinity today,” explained clinical psychologist Dr Aoife Young.

With only one in five Britons currently eating their 5 A DAY, according to research released last year by the World Cancer Research Fund, the Vegetarian Society wants the 'tired image' of vegetarianism to change in order to boost consumption.

“Many people regard vegetarianism as some kind of hardship, but meat-free cuisine has moved past the ubiquitous mushy vegetable lasagne and it’s surprisingly simple to eat well on a plant-based diet,' concluded Alex Connell from the Vegetarian Society’s Cordon Vert Cookery School.