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EU-FUNDED SURVEY FINDS HALF OF EUROPEANS ARE EATING LESS MEAT

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Positive results regarding the switch to plant-based diets have been found by a recent pan-European survey: 51% of European meat eaters say they actively cut back on their yearly meat consumption, which is a significant increase from 46% in 2022. In the UK, 48% of consumers say they are cutting back on meat, while 5% of consumers buy plant-based meat at least once a week.

Surveying 7,500 people from ten European countries—Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, and the UK—ProVeg International, a food awareness organization, conducted the study with funding from the Smart Protein project. The survey aimed to learn more about the eating habits, preferred purchases, and preferences for plant-based foods of the participants.

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Photo by Farah Almazouni on Unsplash

The study found that the main reasons people cut back on meat consumption were health (47%), particularly in Romania and Italy, and environmental concerns (29%), primarily in Denmark and the Netherlands. Significantly (26%) more animals were cared for, especially in Germany and the Netherlands.

According to the study, 48% of UK adults say they are consuming less meat, with 22% saying they purchase plant-based beef or chicken products, 19% plant-based pork or seafood, and 35% plant-based milk on a weekly basis. 

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The survey also showed that over a third of UK consumers would like to see more plant-based meat options available, with the greatest percentage of any country—nearly 75%—choosing supermarkets as their preferred location to buy these goods. In addition, 57% of UK respondents indicated they were in favor of policies that assist farmers in cultivating crops for plant-based foods.

Nevertheless, despite these encouraging statistics, British people were most worried about the price of plant-based food, with 43% saying it is “too expensive” and 37% saying it does not taste well.

Linus Pardoe at the Good Food Institute Europe said: “Despite soaring demand for plant-based food in the UK, consumers here are more likely to say existing products are too expensive and aren’t tasty enough. The government and British businesses must invest in research and infrastructure to bring prices down and improve quality, making these sustainable foods more appealing and widely available.”

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Image by Ariel Núñez Guzmán from Pixabay

The following are additional study highlights that are worth considering.

  • The most popular plant-based food among European consumers is legumes, as reported by 66% of the continent’s citizens, who also wish to eat them more frequently (53%) and at least occasionally (66%).
  • In terms of dietary preferences, 27% of consumers in Europe identify as flexitarians, which is an interesting 10% decline from 30% in 2021. Among those who identified as flexitarians were 29% of Baby Boomers, 27% of Gen X, 28% of Millennials, and 26% of Gen Z.
  • Additionally, according to the study, 46% of Europeans say they have been meatless for more than two years (flexitarian, vegan, vegetarian, or pescetarian), and the percentage of Europeans who say they eat at least one plant-based food substitute once a week has gone from 21% in 2021 to 28%. 
  • When it comes to purchases, supermarkets continue to be the main source of plant-based purchases at 60%, with convenience plant-based alternatives consumed at home coming in first with 67%. Remarkably, 46% of Europeans say they have more faith in plant-based substitutes now than they did two years ago. 
  • Finally, the survey revealed that 62% of participants support tax-free food products that promote health and environmental values. 

“Increasing numbers of people are choosing to reduce their meat intake and policymakers and industry can use this knowledge to make respective decisions on the production and promotion of plant-based foods,” comments Jasmijn de Boo, CEO of ProVeg International.

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To download the entire report, visit “Evolving Appetites: an in-depth look at European attitudes towards plant-based eating.“