THE horsemeat scandal has seen people turning their backs on meat to take up a vegetarian or vegan diet, according to Worcestershire Vegan and Veggies (WVV).

The group has seen a marked increase in people interested in cutting meat out of their diet. Revelations about the sale of horsemeat packaged as beef has focused people’s attention on meat production and slaughterhouses.

Ronald Lee, WVV communications officer, said there had been a surge of people who had got in touch with the organisation interested in reducing their meat consumption or ditching it altogether.

Traffic to its website and Facebook page had increased and they had also had more requests from people wanting to join the mailing list. Mr Lee said: “Last week we ran a stall at the green fair at the University of Worcester and there was ever such a high interest.

“A lot of that was to do with horsemeat and people concerned about that. “I think people have a particular affection for horses like they do cats and dogs, but they don’t think of pigs or sheep or cattle having their own individual personalities like those animals.”

The increase in people interested in turning to a diet without meat began just after the news broke that beef burgers contained a percentage of horsemeat in January.

Mr Lee said: “I think it has made people think more about the food they eat and anything that gets people thinking like that is a good thing.

“I think the scandal has increased an effect that’s already happening as I’ve noticed in recent years that more people are becoming vegan or vegetarian or just reducing their consumption of meat because they are becoming more aware of food production as well as the health and environmental benefits.

“People eat without thinking what’s in their food and what is involved but this has made them question what they are eating and made them reflect.” More information about the group can be found at or on the Facebook group Worcestershire Vegans and Veggies.