Studies & Numbers

EU-Funded Survey: 51% of Europeans and 48% of Brits Are Reducing Meat Consumption

A recent pan-European survey reveals positive findings around the transition to plant-based foods: 51% of meat eaters in Europe claim they are actively reducing their annual meat consumption, showing a notable rise from 46% in 2022; and in the UK, 48% of consumers are reducing their meat intake as a fifth of consumers purchase plant-based meat at least once a week.

Carried out by the food awareness organisation ProVeg International in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen and Ghent University, and funded by the Smart Protein project; the survey questioned 7,500 individuals from ten European countries, including Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, and the UK, to gain insights into their plant-based food preferences, eating habits, and preferred purchases.

According to the research, the primary motivation for reducing meat consumption was health (47%), especially in Romania and Italy, followed by environmental concerns (29%), mainly in Denmark and the Netherlands. Animal welfare was significant (26%), notably in Germany and the Netherlands.

THIS Isn't Roast Chicken and Stuffing
© THIS

48% of Brits are reducing meat

The study highlights that nearly half of UK adults (48%) report reducing their meat intake, with 22% claiming to buy plant-based chicken or beef products, 19% plant-based pork or seafood, and 35% plant-based milk at least once a week. 

Additionally, the survey revealed that more than a third of UK consumers wish they could buy more plant-based meat options, with nearly 75% (the highest percentage of any country) choosing supermarkets as the preferred place for purchasing these products. Furthermore, 57% of those surveyed in the UK said they support measures that help farmers grow crops for plant-based foods.

However, despite these positive figures in the UK, Brits were the most concerned about the cost of plant-based food, with 43% saying they are “too expensive” and 37% stating that they don’t taste good. 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.”

A range of different legumes
© Equinom

Love for legumes

Further points of interest from the study include the following.

  • Legumes emerged as the favourite plant-based food for European consumers: 66% of Europeans claim to consume legumes at least occasionally, with 53% expressing a desire to consume them more frequently.
  • Regarding diet types, 27% of European consumers identify as flexitarians, curiously showing a 10% decrease compared to 30% in 2021. 29% of Baby Boomers, 27% of Gen X, 28% of Millennials, and 26% of Gen Z said they were flexitarians.
  • The study also shows that 46% of Europeans claim to have adopted meat-free lifestyles for over two years (flexitarian, vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian), and Europeans consuming at least one plant-based food alternative once a week has increased from 21% in 2021 to 28%. 
  • Concerning purchases, convenience plant-based alternatives consumed at home lead with 67%, while supermarkets remain the primary source for plant-based purchases at 60%. Interestingly, 46% of Europeans report increased trust in plant-based alternatives compared to two years ago. 
  • Lastly, the survey found that 62% of respondents favor tax-free food products that support environmental and health 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.

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

ProVeg International will host a webinar on the 14th of November, 2023, between 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. (CET), offering participants more insights into the survey’s findings in the last two years.

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