Environmental concerns see shoppers cutting red meat consumption in favour of more vegetables and fish  

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Nearly half of shoppers who are changing what they eat are doing so because of concerns about the environment, according to a new survey by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

Released ahead of the UN’s World Oceans Day on Saturday 8th June, the research reveals 45% of UK consumers are doing so due to environmental reasons, alongside health and price.  

The biggest change was in red meat, like beef and lamb, with 35% of UK shoppers surveyed cutting their consumption over the past two years. 39% said they were eating more vegetables and 13% said they were eating more fish. Looking forward, 29% of UK consumers said they would eat more seafood in future if they knew it wasn’t causing harm to the ocean. 

Top of consumers’ environmental concerns was climate change with other major issues including pollution and waste damaging rivers and streams, loss and destruction of forests and woodland, and extreme weather events.

Whilst the survey shows a growing anxiety about the state of the world’s oceans with 94% of respondents saying they were worried, up from 91% two years ago, it also reveals a good understanding of the role of sustainable fishing. Over half (52%) of UK seafood consumers said they associated sustainable fishing with ensuring that endangered or vulnerable species are better protected. 

In addition, 60% of UK respondents recognised that it includes maintaining healthy, thriving fish populations, both of which are key components of the MSC Fisheries Standard. 

George Clark, MSC UK & Ireland programme director, said: “The results of the survey show a growing public concern about the state of our ocean. Protecting it, and the diversity of life within it is vital for the health of the planet. We need to re-double our collective efforts to tackle overfishing and the enormous threat it poses. Incentivising positive change, through recognising and rewarding sustainable fishers is vital for progress. By ensuring fishing practises are sustainable we can guarantee more life in the ocean as well as protecting a valuable food resource for this, and future generations.”

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