Veganism and vegetarianism in the Netherlands and Belgium- statistics & facts
Meat avoidance is trending. Consumers in the Netherlands and Belgium are becoming increasingly conscious about their meat consumption and ecological footprint, resulting in the popularity of various meat-free diets. Veganism, vegetarianism, pescetarianism, and flexitarianism are the different degrees of the plant-based lifestyle. Roughly two to four percent of consumers in the Netherlands and Belgium follow the most restricted vegan rules, whereas four to six percent are vegetarian. For the majority of consumers, however, such strict diets are one step too far. Instead, they opt for a so-called flexitarian diet, in a conscious effort to reduce their meat and dairy consumption. In the Netherlands, this diet is followed by 40 percent of adults.
Why do we eat less meat?
The meat-avoiding lifestyle is based on multiple convictions. The first, and perhaps the most important reason why consumers eat less meat, is the issue of animal welfare, with nearly half of meat-avoiding consumers in the Netherlands naming this as the main factor. Secondly, climate change – mentioned by 20 percent of respondents - was also an important factor in the decision to eat less meat, as livestock keeping produces relatively high amounts of greenhouse gases. Finally, many consumers choose not to eat meat for health reasons. The traditional notion that meat is an essential part of a balanced diet has long been disproven, with many studies even showing that there are substantial benefits from following a strictly plant-based diet.
Plant-based diets predominantly revolve around vegetables and fruits. However, to ease the transition from a meat-based diet to a vegetarian or vegan one, the food industry has designed various meat and dairy substitutes. Interestingly, many of these new food products are being produced by former meat processing companies. Examples include Van Loon Group in the Netherlands and Rügenwalder Mühle in Germany. Through the availability of plant-based foods that resemble meat in looks, taste, or texture, new meat-avoiding consumers are helped in their dietary transition. In addition, meat eaters may find a soy-based veggie burger easier to swallow than a quinoa salad, making them more likely to step away from their carnivorous diets.
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