According to a new survey by popular vegetarian food brand Linda McCartney, one in 10 British children are choosing to give up meat.
With vegetarian and vegan options more widely available than ever before, it seems that schools are one place that seem to be falling behind when it comes to food options.
Why are they giving up meat?
According to the nationwide survey, 10 per cent of children from the ages of eight to 16 are now vegetarian or vegan, while another 44 per cent are trying to cut back on their meat and dairy intake.
When quizzed about their motivations, the young participants quoted a number of different reasons for taking on the dietary change.
One in 10 decided to go meat-free because their friends are already vegetarian, and 17 per cent have vegetarian parents.
Of the 1,500 British children surveyed, 44 per cent said they decided to go meat free in order to be kinder to nature and animals, with another 31 per cent saying they felt a meat-free lifestyle was more beneficial for the planet.
Vegan and vegetarian social media influencers also played a part, as seven per cent said they were imitating their favourites.
Being health conscious played into the decisions of many children as well, with 29 per cent saying they wanted to be healthier and 27 per cent just wanting to give it a go. Nineteen per cent stated that they preferred vegetarian foods over meat options anyway, so decided to commit to the diet.
Two in 10 of the children taking part said that they are looking to go totally meat-free within the next five years, with a further 15 per cent aiming to do so within the next 10 years.
Schools are lacking options for meat-free dinners
Despite the growing trend of young vegans and vegetarians, it appears that schools may be failing to get on board.
According to Linda McCartney Foods survey, 70 per cent of children said that there aren’t enough meat free options to choose from at school.
Seventy-seven per cent of vegetarian and vegan children stated that they had to eat meat at some point because there weren’t any options available to them.
Parents of the surveyed children shared their concerns, with 81 per cent of parents with meat-free kids saying that there should be more healthy and tasty vegetarian options offered at school.
Seventy-three per cent of parents also said that they felt that school dinners in general were lacking in variety.
Why would you give up meat?
There are lots of reasons that people choose to take on a vegetarian or vegan diet.
According to Happy Cow, vegan and vegetarian diets are much better for the environment - they reduce deforestation of tropical rainforests as they’re cut down to make space to raise cattle.
The Vegetarian Society also stated environmental benefits of being vegetarian - apparently, in terms of emissions, eating vegetarian for a year is the equivalent of taking a small family car off the road for six months.
There’s a whole host of environmental reasons to cut out meat, but there’s also health benefits of the lifestyle.
Happy Cow also quoted a whole host of health benefits, “According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians have a reduced risk of heart disease, obesity, colon cancer, adult-onset diabetes, osteoporosis, gout, gallstones, kidney stones, lung cancer, and breast cancer.”
Are there any negative effects?
As with any lifestyle change, there are some things you should be aware of.
Those choosing to go vegan or vegetarian will need to keep an eye on whether or not they’re getting enough of certain nutrients like protein, iron and B12.
These can be found naturally in lots of vegan and vegetarian friendly foods, and supplements can be taken as well.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Edinburgh Evening News