Switching to a sustainable diet

As we welcome in the new year, some of us are using this as an opportunity to set new goals and start afresh, with the aim of making a positive change in 2022. This could be anything from learning new skills, to improving our lifestyles or even being more sustainable.

One of the key areas where we see people try to change their behaviour in the new year is when it comes to switching to a healthier, more sustainable diet. Findings from our Great Green Sustainability Study show that 52% of consumers are likely to swap their current diet to a more sustainable one in the future, and the top changes they would consider making include:

  1. Reducing meat consumption
  2. Eating more locally produced food
  3. Trying new foods e.g. vegetarian or vegan alternatives

But whether it be meat-free Mondays, taking part in Veganuary, or going fully vegetarian, it is a lot easier said than done.

A plant-based diet is one potential route you could take to be more sustainable. However, from the get go there a number of barriers preventing individuals from adopting a more plant-based diet, with the top 10 being shown below.

As we can see, our findings show that some of the biggest barriers are linked to:

  • Taste: not liking the taste of plant-based alternatives, and just liking meat and dairy products
  • Price: plant-based alternatives being perceived as too expensive
  • Accessibility: plant-based options not always being available whether that be in restaurants or the family home

However, retailers such as M&S, Co-Op and Wagamama are all introducing new initiatives to help combat these challenges and encourage long-lasting behaviour change.

  • M&S has launched its 2-month Spark Change National Challenge for 2022, which is focusing on helping customers enjoy lower carbon diets and explore plant-based options. They are sharing advice on how to cook healthier, plant-based meals which still taste great. They are also giving tips on how to reduce food waste and providing discounts on their meat free ranges.
  • In May 2021 Co-Op cut the price of their vegan products, to put them in line with meat equivalents. They want to close the ‘plant-based price gap’ and encourage customer to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, in the quest to reduce carbon emissions. We are also seeing more supermarkets start to follow suit such as Tesco reducing prices of its Plant Chef range.
  • During 2021 Wagamama introduced a selection of new vegan dishes which helped them reach their goal of having a menu that is 50% plant-based, making plant-based options more accessible. To continue this focus, at the start of January 2022 they were one of the first high street restaurant chains to start serving a dish of vegan fish and chips.

The question is now whether initiatives like those mentioned will be successful in converting people to a more sustainable diet and lifestyle.
Will you be switching to a more sustainable diet this year?
Are initiatives like those in M&S and Co-op helping you to overcome barriers to eating more sustainably?

To find out more about our Great Green Sustainability Study or how we can help you with sustainability please contact Tom Gould, Head of Consumer on: tom.gould@impactmr.com

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