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National Vegetarian Week 2012

National Vegetarian Week 2012

Launching National Vegetarian Week (21-27 May 2012), the Vegetarian Society revealed today that poor service for vegetarians and vegans is putting a whopping £1.8billion worth of catering business at risk (i).

Vegetarians account for nearly two and a half billion pounds worth of food eaten outside of the home each year, at restaurants, cafes and workplace canteens but three quarters of them are unhappy with what's on offer. The Big Veggie Survey (2011) showed that lack of choice when eating out was the biggest difficulty veggies faced in relation to their chosen diet, with 75% of vegetarians indicating that it was a problem.

Asked to further indicate what the most important issues were when eating out, respondents to the survey listed 'knowing staff understand what it means not to eat meat and that a meal is truly vegetarian' and, according to Liz O'Neill from the Vegetarian Society, they have a point.

"Contrary to popular opinion, the Big Veggie Survey showed that only 3% of self-declared vegetarians eat fish. However, past research commissioned by the Vegetarian Society revealed that 85% of vegetarians have been offered fish as a vegetarian choice, when eating out (ii). If restaurants can't even get that kind of thing right then vegetarian customers are right to be concerned.

"The UK catering industry employs over 1.3million people and in a recession nobody can afford to lose sales. We already know that a single vegetarian in a mixed group has a disproportionate influence on where that group chooses to dine so there's a huge slice of business up for grabs by those willing to pay a bit of attention to the details and offer great meat-free food for all their customers."

Now in its twentieth year, National Vegetarian Week (NVW) is the annual awareness-raising campaign promoting inspirational vegetarian food and the benefits of a meat-free lifestyle.

Find out more at


i. Total consumer expenditure on catering services: £78.9billion (Food Statistics Pocketbook, 2011, DEFRA/National Statistics).
Proportion of vegetarians in the UK population: 3% (Food Standards Agency, Public Attitudes to Food Issues - UK, 2009)
Proportion of vegetarians who experience difficulty due to lack of choice of suitable food in restaurants (incl work canteens): 75% (Big Veggie Survey, commissioned by the Vegetarian Society, 2011).

ii. Proportion of visitors to the Vegetarian Society website who had visited an establishment offering fish as a vegetarian option: 85% (survey of 1,000 visitors to, 2003)

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