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Originally published November 17 2009

Flexitarians on the Rise as Informed Consumers Avoid Meat

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) An increasing number of people in First World countries are becoming "flexitarians," or people who still eat meat (and are not, therefore, vegetarian) but who try to limit their intake of it and actively seek out regular vegetarian meals. In response, the number of vegetarian restaurants and restaurants with vegetarian-friendly menus continues to grow.

"Vegetarians are better served than they used to be," said Ben McCormack, editor of the Square Meal guide. "With the rise of the 'flexitarian', restaurants are improving their vegetarian offerings."

"Historically, chefs haven't liked vegetarians but that is changing," said London chef Oliver Peyton. "Younger chefs particularly understand the need for vegetarian food. So many more people want vegetarian food these days and it's my job to cater for them."

Driving the trend are concerns over both health and the environment, and celebrity spokespeople for the cause abound. Peyton and a number of other chefs have joined the "Meat-Free Monday" campaign headed by Sir Paul McCartney, which aims to get more people to reduce their meat intake in order to slow the progress of global warming.

A recent United Nations report found that the livestock industry contributes more to global warming than all forms of transportation combined.

Another London chef, Andrew Dargue, said that more and more of the customers at his vegetarian restaurant Vanilla Black are meat eaters seeking new kinds of food. And it's not just restaurants feeling the increased demand for vegetarian food. The meat substitute market was worth 739 million ($1.3 billion) in 2008, a 20 percent increase over 2003. According to a study by market research group Mintel, this growth trend is projected to continue until at least 2013.

Like many vegetarians, some flexitarians are also motivated by concerns over the animals used as food, and celebrities can be found supporting this cause, as well. For example, the granddaughter of revolutionary Che Guevara recently joined a pro-vegetarian media campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

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