A major survey under the EU-funded Smart Protein project, which aims at developing a new generation sustainable and nutritious protein sources, revealed that a growing number Europeans are cutting down on their meat consumption. The survey was done by the University of Copenhagen with collaboration from ProVeg International, Ghent University and Innova Market Insights.
Nearly 46% are saying that they eat less meat than last year.
However, in Denmark – a frontrunner in sustainable development known for pushing the envelope in culinary innovation – consumers are amongst the slowest to reduce meat intake, with just 37% following this trend.
This means that 63% of Danish consumers have not reduced their meat consumption, putting Denmark in equal last position out of the 10 European countries surveyed.
‘I expected more from Denmark’
Professor Armando Perez-Cueto – one of the Smart Protein collaborators – said he was encouraged by the survey’s overall findings.
“Our meat consumption can have a major impact with regards to the climate crisis we’re up against. It is encouraging to see that a large portion of Europeans are eating less meat than they did in the past
. The professor also noted Denmark’s place among the 9 other countries surveyed. ” It is notable that Denmark, which is a trend-setting and progressist country, is far behind the rest of the group. “I expected more from Denmark.” The survey also revealed that the Nordic nation was last in intention to reduce meat consumption. While nearly 40% of Europeans combined intend on reducing their meat consumption in the months ahead, the figure for Danes is 33%.
In other words, 67% will eat more meat than ever before or as much as they did before.
Why is Denmark ‘lagging’? Prof Perez Cueto attributes Denmark’s last position to a variety of factors, including nutrition, food culture and cost.
“Firstly, we need to puncture widespread myths. Half of Danes believe we can’t live without meat, despite scientific evidence to the contrary.
“Secondly, there is a food culture which says that plant-based foods lack sufficient taste and that a complete mealtime ought to include meat. This view is held by 45% of Danes. Although 100 years have elapsed since Danes ate primarily on a plant-based diet for over a century, the narrative of what’s right has grown strongly.”
“Some other contributing factors could be hampering the uptake of plant-based options,” the professor said.
More than a third of Danish consumers find plant-based food too expensive, aren’t familiar with how to prepare them or find them visually unattractive.
Professor Perez-Cueto believes that these issues can and should be addressed. “This should be a collective task of all members of society, including researchers, public authorities, and organisations. – To encourage people to adopt more environmentally-friendly eating habits.
“Because a green transition of society cannot happen without a green transition of our food consumption.”
Additional findings of Smart Protein’s recent survey can be found here .