Almost half of European flexitarians want more plant-based options

9 November 2021

Nearly half of Europeans who want to eat less meat by switching to plant-based products think not enough options are available, a study has found.

Nearly half of European consumers who want to eat less meat by switching to plant-based products think not enough options are available, a study has found.

A survey of thousands of people across Europe found a massive shift was taking place towards plant-based foods, with 46% of respondents having already cut down on meat drastically and just under 40% planning to eat less in the near future.

Researchers spoke to more than 7,500 people from across 10 countries about their attitudes towards meat and plant-based options. Only 7% of the respondents were vegetarians or vegan while around 30% were flexitarian – trying to eat less meat by swapping it with plant-based products.

But of the flexitarians surveyed, half thought plant-based meat products were too expensive, 45% thought there were not enough plant-based choices available in restaurants and supermarkets, and 48% wanted more information about plant-based meat. ​​Almost 30% of Europeans said that they plan to consume substantially more plant-based dairy and meat products.

Plant-based poultry, beef, salmon, and tuna are the plant-based meat and seafood products that flexitarians would most like to see in supermarkets, along with plant-based mozzarella and sliced cheese.

The report comes as delegates gather at the COP26 summit, and sustainable food NGO the Good Food Institute (GFI) Europe calls for more government investment in research and development to advance plant-based and cultivated meat in order to achieve the full potential of these foods to reduce emissions. 

A study led by Oxford University has found that – even if fossil fuel emissions were eliminated immediately – the world cannot meet its Paris Agreement targets without shifting away from conventional animal agriculture. Animal products account for 82% of the carbon emissions of European diets – but research shows that moving towards plant-based meat could reduce emissions by 30-90%.

The survey was carried out by ProVeg International in partnership with Innova Market Insights, the University of Copenhagen, and Ghent University as part of the EU-funded Smart Protein project. GFI is a partner of the Smart Protein project.

Acacia Smith, policy manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, said: “These findings demonstrate soaring demand for plant-based options from consumers across Europe. But it will take further research and development to achieve the full potential of these foods to cut emissions and relieve pressure on ecosystems. If they are serious about meeting their climate targets, world leaders must invest in sustainable proteins.” 

Jasmijn de Boo, Vice President, ProVeg International, said: “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. Consumer demand for alternative proteins is growing at a remarkable rate, with no end in sight.”