Data published this week by Germany’s Federal Information Centre for Agriculture reveals that, in 2022, per capita meat consumption fell by around 4.2 kg to 52 kilograms per person compared with 2021, lower than at any point since calculations began in 1989.
The report states that Germans consumed about 2.8 kg less pork, 900 grams less beef and veal, and 400 grams less poultry last year. Encouragingly, this translates to net production of animal meat: 9.8% less pork and 8.2% less beef and veal were produced domestically compared to 2021, while net production of poultry meat was down 2.9%.
Germany’s meat consumption has been steadily in decline over recent years, with the country’s interest in meat-free living further bolstered by Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, who famously declared in 2022: “One thing is clear: we will have to eat much less meat,” and, “in the long term, we could reduce meat consumption by 80 percent. But not only in Germany, but worldwide, because it is simply very difficult to produce meat without massive CO2 waste.”
“Meat consumption is […] bordering on the delusional if you think about it”
The SPD Minister also stated in an interview a few months later: “Meat consumption in Germany is, after all, completely unreasonable in many respects, bordering on the delusional if you think about it. It already starts with cruelty to animals. The animals usually live in torment, the cheap meat cannot be produced otherwise.”
Europe-wide plant-based growth
The news comes in the same week that separate data compiled by Nielsen and published by GFI Europe demonstrated that sales of plant-based foods in Europe have grown 6% in 2022 (22% since 2020) to reach €5.7 billion, with Germany representing the highest plant-based food sales value in Europe, and the Netherlands having the highest average plant-based food spend per capita.
Public procurement of plant-based foods, policies that encourage the growth of the plant-based industry, investment in alternative protein product research and innovation, and incentives for farmers to transition away from meat and dairy production are among the actions urgently needed to avoid climate breakdown, states Jasmijn de Boo, Vice President of ProVeg.
Others must follow
“We’re really pleased to see the continued decline in meat consumption in Germany, which has been helped by people following flexitarian diets,” says de Boo.
“It is imperative that policies are implemented to ensure that the trend seen in Germany is replicated elsewhere.”
“This is good news for the environment, for people’s health and, of course, for animals. Animal agriculture is responsible for about 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, along with widespread deforestation, and the pollution of waterways. It is imperative that policies are implemented to ensure that the trend seen in Germany is replicated elsewhere.
“We can no longer ignore the need to significantly transform the food system to ensure a more sustainable future for all, and the good news is that the solutions are already out there to reduce meat and dairy consumption by encouraging a flexitarian diet,” she concludes.