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It's not you... it's your ethical eating stance

  • Meat free is now becoming ‘sexy’ to the younger generation

  • These days, when it comes to dating, there are a number of pitfalls to navigate, rules of dating etiquette to learn and boxes to tick. However, apparently the way our potential partner treats the planet is creeping up our priority list, with nearly two thirds (57%) of Brits seeing littering as a major turn off and nearly sixty per cent choosing to date a veggie.

    Long gone are the days that those with strong ethical views around meat eating and protecting the planet were deemed ‘tree huggers’, with ‘far out’ views; they are now the studs of the dating world.

    A study conducted by Plate for the Planet looked into people’s attitudes towards the future, including what might flick their switch in a potential romantic partner. It seems all we want is someone who wants to protect the planet and is making small changes to their lives to do so.

    This extends to animal welfare as well as the wellbeing of the planet, as the research revealed that 36 per cent of people said they would be put off dating someone who wears fur.

    In the same vein, reducing meat consumption is also arguably becoming more ‘sexy’, with a quarter (25%) of the nation finding celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Arnold Swarznegger attractive because they have taken a stand against meat-eating.

    Faith Allen, a charity recruitment coordinator from Essex agrees with the findings of the study. She said: “I think those who care about the planet have got a bad rep in the past, being viewed as hippies or fanatical campaigners, but I’m glad people are coming round to it; what’s not attractive about someone who cares about something other than themselves?

    “I’ve heard about plenty of guys in the past who only care about the car you drive, the money you earn or what label you’re wearing, but that’s not sexy to me. It shows a selfless attitude if a guy cares about the planet and how his behaviour is going to affect the future of the planet – after all, it’s our children and future generations who are going to have to live in it.”

    Faith’s views are reflective of the battle of the sexes when it comes to the issue of dating and the environment. 43 per cent of women were against a partner wearing fur, compared with only 29 per cent of men. The same can be seen for littering, with 50 percent of women, compared with 53 per cent of men seeing this as a no-go in a potential partner.

    How we view eating meat is a contentious issue which splits the genders further. Nearly three quarters of women wish their partner would eat less meat, but it seems the blokes disagree and this number drops to only 14 per cent in male respondents.

    Faith continues: “Eating sustainably is something which I’m still learning about because it’s such a complex issue; I’ve not eaten meat now for a number of years because I was made aware of the impact that meat consumption specifically has on the environment. I now get my protein from food like pulses and Quorn so it doesn’t feel like any kind of sacrifice. Nowadays I would look for someone who is aware of the impact of how they eat, even if only to a small degree, as what we eat affects the planet so much.”

    Nik Brown, Professor of Sociology from the University of York comments: “It’s not surprising that shared values are becoming more and more important to use when considering a life partner. With changes in society such as increased awareness of certain issues via the internet and other sources we’re becoming a more informed, and therefore more opinionated nation, so would want these opinions to be shared by the person closest to us.

    “People searching for someone to spend the rest of their life with are often thinking about the future and someone they may raise a family with, which is natural, and so a logical extension of this is to think about the future in a wider sense. With issues around the planet and reducing our meat intake getting more media exposure it seems that some of us are linking this to every aspect of our lives, including our romantic lives.”

    Sustainability is an issue which features increasingly in the public consciousness and people are becoming more aware of the role meat consumption plays in this; nearly half (40%) of the UK now thinks that eating less meat would be better for the environment.

    The younger generation seems to be placing more importance on these issues. With 26 per cent of 16 – 24 year olds wishing their partner would care about the environment as much as they do. Those in their late teens link this to meat consumption with 33 per cent of 16-19 year olds saying that they wish their partner would eat less meat.

    Fran Graham, Friends of the Earth’s Food Campaigner adds: “Our current appetite for meat means that global livestock production causes more climate-changing emissions than all cars, planes, boats and trains on the planet, and eating too much meat is linked to certain cancers, heart disease and strokes.

    “Future generations are really going to feel the impact of our current attitude to meat, so it is crucial that the Government and food industry help make it easy for people to eat a more plant-based diet. It’s a huge culture shift that would be a double win: immediately and for the future – for the benefit of our health and the planet.”

    Faith continues: “I have just started dating someone who works in environmental sciences and find it a really attractive trait. He is originally from Greece and so typically has a quite meat-heavy diet, but as a result of our conversations he is starting to come round to reducing his meat intake.

    “I want to know that my children are going to grow up in a world that is not draining its natural resources to feed itself by over consuming meat, and would like my other half to feel the same. “