Greens: Do you know your peas from your pak choi?

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As a nation, it seems we’re rather bad at eating our greens. Or so we discovered when we recently ran a national survey on the subject. Nearly half of Brits (46%) admit to only eating one portion of green veg a day and nearly 10% don’t eat any at all. And this is despite 8 in 10 of us knowing we should be eating more.

According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, nearly 75% of us are failing to meet the minimum recommended intake of five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

So why are nearly three quarters of us not eating enough veg? It turns out the average Brit eats just four different greens on rotation, so it’s not surprising that when it came to less common veg, more than a third couldn’t recognise watercress or pak choi. 60% were also bamboozled by trendy superfood kale.

One in 10 adults shown pictures of green veg failed to identify cabbages and asparagus, while one in six couldn’t spot leeks, and a massive one in five had trouble with fresh garden peas.

The study also revealed there are certain fruits and veg that we just can’t stomach in their solid form. Just 2% said that Swiss chard would top their favourites list and the trendy kale didn’t fare much better.

Broccoli and peas top the charts for most of us, though the survey highlights some interesting regional variations regarding portions of green veg per day.peas in a bowl
Vegetable map of Britain survey infographic

In summary

We should all be eating more greens and most of us know we should, but three quarters of us fail to do so. Broccoli is the nation's favourite green vegetable (42%) closely followed by the humble pea (38%) it seems most of us can’t stand kale with only 6% of the nation stating it as their favourite.


About the research

An online survey was conducted by Atomik Research among 2000 adults aged 18+ from the UK. The research fieldwork took place on 21/01/21-23/01/21. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency that employs MRS-certified researchers and abides by the MRS code.

Here are some additional results we think reveals the most about our consumption and knowledge of green vegetables.

Key findings include:

  • In terms of seasonality knowledge, 39% of Brits know that brussels sprouts are in season in the UK in late Winter, but only 12% know that spinach is as well.
  • Women are better at identifying green vegetables as they outscored men on every green vegetable except broccoli (92% vs 93% of men) with some of the largest margins being on Bok choy (71% vs 54% of men) and kale (66% vs 49%).
  • The favourite green vegetable of those aged under 55 is broccoli, while the favourite green vegetable of those aged 55 and over is peas. These stats are also true for the green vegetable that these age groups eat most often.
  • Londoners are some of the worst at identifying green vegetables as they were outscored by every other region on leeks, brussels sprouts, asparagus, kale, peas and watercress.
  • Only 63% of Brits can correctly identify Bok choy, and even less (56%) know that it originated in China and only 62% can correctly identify watercress.