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Nearly half of Europeans are actively eating less meat, according to a new survey.
ProVeg International and Innova Market Insights teamed up with experts from the University of Copenhagen and Ghent University to conduct the research.
The EU’s €10 million Smart Protein project helped fund it.
The research included 7,578 participants. They were based in 10 European countries: Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, and the UK.
Moving away from meat is “the new normal in Europe,” a report on the research says.
Thirty-seven percent of Europeans in the sample identified as vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian – the term coined for those who actively eat less meat.
Similarly, 46 percent of participants said they have reduced their meat consumption in the last year. For flexitarians, this number jumps up; 73 percent said they’re eating less meat than they were a year ago.
Looking at the responses from all participants – meat-eaters included – around 30 percent said they plan to consume less dairy and meat in the next six months.
By the same token, 26 and 25 percent said they’ll be consuming more vegan dairy and meat alternatives, respectively, in the next six months.
Future of plant-based food
The primary barriers to eating more plant-based food were lack of availability (in restaurants and supermarkets), cost, and lack of information.
Still, the movement appears to be accelerating, with younger generations leading the charge. And, millennials and those from Generation Z tend to encourage their parents to eat less meat, too.
“European consumers’ appetite for plant-based foods is here to stay, as shown by the number of Europeans who say they want to eat more plant-based alternatives to dairy and meat in the future,” commented Vinciane Patelou, director of ENSA-European Plant-Based Foods Association.
“The regulatory framework for these products, for instance in terms of labelling, must not lag behind and should help guide consumers towards these products.”
Jasmijn De Boo, vice president at ProVeg International, recognizes a significant opportunity in the sector.
“The survey suggests tremendous potential for plant-based foods in Europe and gives a green light to all relevant players in the field to develop more and better products,” she said. “Consumer demand for alternative proteins is growing at a remarkable rate, with no end in sight.”