Lifestyle choices are personal. For many, dietary preferences stem from a medical diagnosis, for others they are a way to structure their eating habits and can even be a way of mitigating an individual's carbon footprint.
One-third of British consumers are actively choosing to reduce their meat consumption. Currently, over 1.1 million Brits identify themselves as vegan and this number is set to double by the end of 2020. The rise of the environmentally-conscious consumer has promoted a reduced consumption of animal products.
In the age of climate change, going vegan can cut an individual's carbon footprint from food by up to 73%  ! A study at Oxford University found that meat and dairy products provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein levels around the world, yet are responsible for 60% of agricultures greenhouse gas emissions  .
Not just limited to the environmentally conscious, a vegan diet has been found to offer considerable health benefits. Those who eat seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day have a significantly lower risk of premature death  . For a healthy diet, the WHO states that one should include ‘fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains’, all plant-based foods.
Up to a third of American adults purposefully avoid gluten  , and numbers are consistently rising in Britain. One in five Brits avoid specific ingredients due to an allergy or intolerance and around 1% of the UK population has celiac disease, an autoimmune disease caused by a reaction to the protein gluten. Then there is the other 6% of the population who are grouped in the more broad category of gluten intolerant  . The free-from market is a life saviour for those suffering from this life long health condition or an intolerance and its continued growth provides a welcoming array of new products. Not solely consumed by those with a medical need, the free-from aisle has recently become a big hit with the one in four Brits who avoid specific allergens as part of a healthy lifestyle  .
The organic food industry is booming. 2019 sales of organic food and drink increased by 4.5% to a record £2.45bn  . The organic market in the UK is the ninth-largest in the world  . Surprisingly, the biggest seller in the organic category is wine, rising by 50%in 2019. Organic produce contains fewer preservatives and pesticides than regular products  . Some research has suggested that organic produce retains a higher antioxidant content than conventionally grown food. However, due to the contrasting evidence, more research still needs to take place to discern whether organic foods are truly more nutritious. In terms of animal products, organic meat and milk contain considerably higher levels of healthy fats than conventionally produced products. Like many other functional foods, organic products are enjoying a surge in demand due to COVID, with online retailers reporting high sales growth which is set to continue into the new year.
In this increasingly connected global world, it is easy to forget the producers in your local community. Buying local products can help support your immediate community. In Britain small businesses support 14 million jobs, a large proportion of them in retail. Boosting the local economy, research shows that for every £1 spent within a small or medium-sized local business 63p stayed in the local economy  .
Buying local also ensures a reduced supply chain journey for produce, whether that be meat or veggies. Having fewer food miles between field to fork cuts down on fuel consumption and air pollution which reduces the environmental impact of products. Along with supporting local producers, local food is more likely to contain a higher nutritional value and have less packaging, good for you and the environment!
Lifestyle choices are exceptionally personal to each and every one. Whether they are subscribed to because of health claims or environmental benefits they have informed the creation of new products and the increased inclusivity of the restaurant industry.