It is estimated by the National Diet and Nutrition Survey that 1.2 million people in the UK are vegetarian.
While that makes up just two per cent of the population, those avoiding meat in their diet are rising.
Indeed, last year it was reported that the number of vegans – who don’t consume any animal products, including meat – has risen by 350 per cent in the last decade.
As well as the culture of ‘clean eating’ making giving up beef, chicken and turkey fashionable, many people have been driven veggie by a number of studies suggesting meat is dertimental to health.
This week a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found a link between red meat consumption and type 2 diabetes.
However, another study by McMaster University in Canada revealed that a higher consumption of fats of all kinds – including those found in meat – could reduce overall death risk by 23 per cent and stroke risk by 30 per cent.
Many experts recommend eating good quality, unprocessed meat in moderation – here are four with nutritional benefits.
While it is mostly only thought about once a year on the 25th December, eating turkey regularly could actually help you sleep.
It contains a natural sedative, an amino acid called L-tryptophan.
This produces the sleep-inducing chemicals serotonin and melatonin.
It is an easy source of lean protein, found by research to help prevent stroke and build muscle strength.
However, chicken is also one of the healthier meats you can choose – largely because of what it doesn’t contain.
Compared to red meat it has lower cholesterol and saturated fat.
According to the American Heart Association, they can lead to heart disease.
Red meat, such as beef and lamb, has gained a bad name for being linked to a lower life expectancy when eaten in high amounts.
However, consumed in moderation it can prove very nutritious.
It is a key source of a number of B vitamins which are essential for the blood and nervous system.
Indeed, 35 per cent of the vitamin B12 intake in most people tends to come from meat and meat products, according to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey.
Vitamin B6, folate, thiamin, riboflavin and thiamin are aso nutrients found in red meat.
The NHS recommend people eat at least two portions of fish a week, including one of oily fish.
This is because fish, particularly oily fish like salmon and fresh tuna, are a rich source of many vitamins and minerals.
They also contain lots of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which may help to keep your heart and brain healthy.
Steaming, baking and grilling fish is healthier, say the NHS, than fried fish.