A massive 99 per cent of the public feel that diet can affect health in a big way, according to recent research - though that doesn't necessarily mean that everyone is eating the best diet for healthy living.

This week (May 20th to 26th) is National Vegetarian Week, and because of the occasion, the Vegetarian Society has released a new survey.

This found that 67 per cent of people knew one adult or more who wasn't eating many vegetables at all, and among 18 to 24-year-olds, that proportion was an even higher 87 per cent.

Among people over 65, a lower 52 per cent knew one or more adult that was eating very few veggies, meanwhile.

Meanwhile, 77 per cent felt they ought to be eating more vegetables and fruits and well as more pulses than they are at the moment, and cutting down on meat.

"Many people regard vegetarianism as some kind of hardship but meat-free cuisine has moved past the ubiquitous mushy vegetable lasagne and it’s surprisingly simple to eat well on a plant-based diet," commented Cordon Vert Cookery School chief Alex Connell.

Interestingly, 43 per cent of people were in agreement with the idea that "real men need meat" - with a higher 56 per cent of young adults feeling this way and a lower 32 per cent of people over 65 holding the same attitude.

The Vegetarian Society speculates that people's perceptions of eating meat might be behind the fact that most of us apparently don't eat five portions of veg and fruit daily.

It cites World Cancer Research Fund stats showing that just 22 per cent of Brits were eating this number of these sorts of food daily.

"Historical associations of power, privilege and virility with eating meat remain evident in cultural norms and media representations of masculinity today," commented Dr Aoife Young, a clinical psychologist, agreeing, according to the Vegetarian Society, with 2012 Journal of Consumer Research article "Is Meat Male? A quantitative multimethod framework to establish metaphoric relationships".

"However, the health benefits of reducing meat consumption, the adverse environmental impact of meat production and concern about animal welfare are also equally valid issues for consideration by modern men," Dr Young went on.

The Vegetarian Society's research, he added, reiterated the idea that people were aware of what was "good for them" and the healthy options they ought to be taking.

"In order for a person to make changes in their behaviour, they must first believe that it is possible for them to change, that this will be beneficial for them and that the benefit will be greater than any perceived costs of making that change," he added.

The Vegetarian Society has recommended that people who want to try vegetarianism cook veggie versions of foods they like. Spaghetti bolognese can be made with quorn mince for example, it says.

But it also says people shouldn't worry about substituting meat in their meals as they do not need to do this.

"Going vegetarian is fun, tasty and seriously rewarding, and there’s never been a better time to enjoy a meat-free lifestyle," the Society's Liz O'Neill has said.