NEW RESEARCH by the Meat & Livestock Commission has shown that 25% of self-professed vegetarians are regular eaters of red meat.

The research was conducted by TNS Family Food Panel – Britain‘s largest lifestyle survey which requires 11,000 consumers to maintain a food diary for two weeks, twice a year.

Of the 11,000 questioned only 42% of claimed vegetarians actually never eat red meat, fish or poultry.

“I think the findings reflect shifting ideals and that the fact these days maintaining a balanced diet is often more important to people than supporting a cause such as vegetarianism,” said dietician and nutritionist, Juliette Kellow.

“Certainly increased consumption of protein rich foods such as red meat and fish, which provide important nutrients such as iron and omega-3 fatty acids, suggests people are far more aware of their contribution to a healthy, balanced diet.”

Last year consumption of beef topped 1m tonnes and the continued rise in sales pre-dates the rise in popularity of the Atkins diet which is only used by 7% of the population.

The figures reveal that only 4% of the population is a true vegetarian, a figure that has remained static for the past few years.

Meat image studies carried out by British Meat shows that fewer consumers now think that red meat is a cause of heart disease or high blood pressure.

Consumers also now feel that red meat is an easy and versatile ingredient to cook with, due largely to improved butchery techniques which reduce the fat content of most cuts.