A growing number of Spaniards are opting to cut meat out of their diets – as many as one in 10, and particularly women and young people, according to recent research.

Consultancy firm Lantern’s report, The Green Revolution: Understanding the veggie revolution shows that 0.5% of the Spanish population follows an exclusively vegan diet, 1.5% vegetarian – without meat or fish – and 7.9% refer to themselves as ‘flexitarians’, meaning they are basically vegetarian but very occasionally eat meat or fish.

No figures are available for those who identify as ‘pescatarian’ – who eat fish but not meat – possibly because until recently they would have been considered vegetarian, although the definition is now changing and a ‘true’ vegetarian is said to be someone who does not eat fish either.

In total, including ‘flexitarians’, those who never or very rarely eat meat account for 9.9% of the Spanish population, the ‘never’ totalling 2%.

The Lantern report says that over last year, meat-free diets increased by 27% in Spain, and nowadays, 817,000 Spaniards do not eat meat at all.

Three main reasons are behind the decision to stop eating meat or to go completely vegetarian or vegan, Lantern says.

One of these is a growing concern about animal welfare, with 84% of those interviewed considering it crucial to improve conditions of farm creatures, offer them a better quality of life, and in a smaller but rising percentage of respondents, being completely against killing animals for food or for any reason other than entirely humane ones.

The second and third main motives for cutting out meat, Lantern reveals, are seeking improved health, in light of ongoing reports of red meat and processed meat increasing the risks of cancer and cardiovascular conditions, and climate change.

In the case of the latter, the meat industry is one of the causes of greenhouse gas emissions, which trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere and increase the average global temperature, which is leading to a greater incidence of extreme weather conditions such as droughts, storms, floods, extreme cold, and heatwaves.

According to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a balanced diet largely based upon ingredients of vegetable origin and with a small portion of those of animal origin, produced sustainably and ethically, ‘offers great opportunities for adaptation and mitigation’ of climate change whilst ‘generating major collateral benefits in terms of human health’.