Feeling guilty about your last meat or dairy purchase? Whether you care about the environment, animal welfare, or your diet, eating meat is linked to negative consequences in each category. A new poll conducted by The Vegan Society reveals that 71 percent of people in the United Kingdom feel guilty about eating animal products.

The Vegan Society conducted a study to understand how UK citizens felt about meat and dairy purchases, questioning 2,000 non-vegan consumers about their dietary choices. This included pescatarians, flexitarians, and vegetarians. The study found that 49 percent of respondents felt guilty "some" of the time and 22 percent felt guilty every time they consumed animal products.

“No one wants to contribute to suffering but unfortunately most of us were raised to think of certain animals as ‘something’ rather than ‘someone’,” Elena Orde, campaign lead at The Vegan Society, said in a statement.

The poll also revealed that there is a drastic difference between younger and older generations. The study showed that only 59 percent of consumers between 50 and 65 felt guilty, whereas 80 percent of respondents between 18 and 30 feel actively guilty. However, 68 percent of the older generation identified as animal lovers, ranking above the younger generation at 61 percent.

Ashamed to Purchase Animal Products?

Consumer attitudes towards certain animal products differ as well. For example, the poll found that consumers generally felt less guilty about eating eggs. The findings showed that eight percent of consumers felt guilty every time, and 31 percent felt shame only occasionally. Similarly, consumers felt less guilty about drinking milk with 10 percent of respondents claiming they felt guilty all the time and 29 percent saying only some of the time.

Another study from this May found that 49 percent of Gen Z consumers felt ashamed while ordering dairy milk in public. As environmental and welfare concerns become clearer, younger consumers feel ashamed of their unsustainable purchases. Now, approximately 87 percent of Gen Z are concerned about the environment.

The Environmental Impact of Animal Agriculture

To stop climate change from getting any worse, meat and dairy consumption must be significantly reduced worldwide. During the UN Climate Change Conference last year, eight countries announced that they pledged to cut methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030 –– a practice that is only possible by limiting cattle livestock. The international coalition claimed that cutting methane is the “single most effective strategy in reducing global warming."

Meat and dairy products only provide the world with 18 percent of its total calories, however, animal agriculture requires 83 percent of the planet's available farmland to produce. This practice not only harms livestock animals but threatens hundreds of species living in lands impacted by deforestation such as the Amazon.

Eat Vegan During the Holidays

With the holidays around the corner, consider eating plant-based instead of preparing the typical turkey or pot roast. Even introducing some plant-based meals to your diet can have significant benefits to the environment, animal welfare, and your health.

Check out how you can celebrate the holidays and feel good about your health and carbon footprint with The Beet's Thanksgiving Guide.

Or, eat more plant-based year-round. Eating plant-based even twice a week for a year can save 14 billion trees. So check out The Beet's plant-based recipes for every meal:

For more planetary happenings, check out The Beet's Environmental News.