A YouGov survey commissioned by the Eating Better Alliance, suggests that the British public has become more conscientious about their meat intake since the horsemeat scandal.
Many people are now eating less meat out of concern for animals, whilst more than half say they are willing to pay more money for meat that is higher welfare.
Of the adults questioned, 34% said they were willing to consider eating less meat, citing two of their primary motivations as the ‘conditions in which animals are reared’ and ‘concern about where meat comes from’.
Another 25% said that they had cut down their consumption of meat products in the last year, especially processed meat, ready meals and takeaways.
Philip Lymbery, Compassion's CEO, says: “These new figures indicate a huge loss of confidence in the meat consumer market, and push on the clear message that there is a need for greater transparency in the food supply chain.
"Whilst we support the message that eating less meat is better for your health and for the environment, and that choosing higher welfare meat is far better for animals; it is a sad state of affairs when Britons are changing their eating habits out of the fear of eating the unknown.”
55% of the respondents said they would be willing to pay more for meat produced to higher welfare standards. Unfortunately, method of production labelling is currently not required by EU law for animal products, which makes it difficult to identify what system an animal has been reared in.
Compassion is campaigning alongside the RSPCA, Soil Association and World Society for the Protection of Animals to demand method of production labelling across the EU. This will make it easier for consumers to identify higher welfare products, increasing demand and ultimately improving the lives of thousands of animals.
This has already proved successful with the introduction of mandatory labelling for eggs, which increased the production of free-range eggs from 31% to 51% between 2003 and 2011.