People in the UK ate 150 million more meat-free dinners last year than in 2017, new figures suggest.
Figures from Kantar Worldpanel suggested households ate a total of 4.4 billion such evening meals last year amid a shift to a more plant-based diet.
The conclusion was drawn from behaviour data measuring 16,000 weekly diaries that outline what people have been eating and drinking.
It was published alongside Kantar’s latest grocery market data, covering the 12 weeks to 27 January, which suggested stores were boosted by the popularity of “Veganuary” last month.
Those figures showed sales of fruit, vegetables and salad rose by £46m in January compared with the same month last year, with cucumbers, carrots and berries proving especially popular.
Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of customers bought an item labelled “free from” over the past month, including alternatives to dairy such as plant milk.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “Looking back on 2018 as a whole, one of the most notable consumer trends is the shift to a more plant-based diet.
“Today, 1% of all households include a vegan, 5% have a vegetarian and 10% have flexitarians in their ranks.”
Kantar pointed to a health-conscious response to an indulgent Christmas period as one of the reasons behind the popularity of fruit and vegetables in January.
But figures on “Dry January” when some choose to abstain from alcohol were more mixed.
Alcohol sales actually rose by 10% over the last four weeks of the period covered by the survey but that included New Year’s Eve.
Stripping those out, sales were up 2.9%.
More than half of households bought alcohol in January, with gin sales up by 23% – but non and low-alcohol beers were up 79%.
The Kantar data also showed overall grocery sales up 1.7% to £28.6bn in the most recent 12-week period, with discounters Aldi and Lidl the fastest growing as they continued to eat away at the market share of larger rivals Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons.
(c) Sky News 2019: People in the UK ate 150 million more meat-free dinners in 2018