Plant-based meat

Your guide to the science, business and policy of plant-based meat, eggs, dairy and seafood in Europe.

Plant-based sausage
Photo credit: Beyond Meat
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What is plant-based meat, egg, dairy and seafood?

The new generation of plant-based foods looks, cooks and tastes like meat, eggs, dairy and seafood. 

Food scientists have developed plant-based recipes that deliver the flavour, texture and overall experience of eating meat, without the problems of industrial animal agriculture.

Why do we need plant-based meat?

Plant-based meat delivers the familiar flavour and texture of conventionally produced meat, with a vastly reduced environmental impact, better health outcomes and without harming animals. 

Research has found that moving towards plant-based meat would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90%. Because making meat directly from plants requires substantially less crops than farming animals for meat, it also uses up to 99% less land and water – potentially freeing up space to protect and restore nature. 

Plant-based meat is also made in clean environments without animals or exposure to faecal pathogens, and no antibiotics are needed – so these foods help to reduce the risk of zoonotic diseases, prevent foodborne illnesses, and preserve life-saving antibiotics for human medicine.

How can we advance plant-based meat in Europe?

Creating the flavours and textures of meat using plants involves finding novel ingredients and using new science and technology. Few of the world’s plant protein sources have been rigorously explored or optimised for plant-based meat, and access to the latest technology is limited – so we are only in the early stages of plant-based meat innovation. 

To maximise the benefits of plant-based foods, we need public investment in research and development focused on enhancing taste, reducing prices, and streamlining supply chains – making these sustainable options the default choice for consumers across Europe.

GFI Europe’s market research shows investment in infrastructure, training the workforce and optimising processing techniques will be crucial to the plant-based sector’s success.


Plant-based burger

Plant-based meat science

Learn more about the science and technology behind plant-based meat – and the white spaces where more research is needed to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, secure and just food system.

The plant-based meat business

Demand for plant-based foods is soaring across Europe, and top supermarkets, restaurants and food producers are investing in expanding their offerings in response.

  • Retail sales of plant-based foods across Europe reached €3.6 billion in 2020 – 28% higher than 2019, and 49% higher than 2018.
  • Germany leads the market, with sales totalling €993 million in 2020. The UK is in second place at €750 million.
  • Plant-based meat sales alone accounted for €1.4 billion in 2020 – up 63% compared with 2018.

Companies interested in delivering the sustainable options European consumers are demanding should invest in plant-based meat.

Woman prepares food at plant-based cafe

Plant-based meat policy

To deliver on their potential to help tackle the climate and ecological emergency, protect public health and enhance food security, plant-based foods need government support.

GFI Europe advocates public investment in plant-based R&D, evidence-based regulation of new foods, and clear labelling rules to help consumers make more sustainable choices.

Latest news on plant-based meat

How sustainable proteins took centre stage at a meat industry trade fair

GFI Europe attended IFFA, the world’s largest meat industry trade fair, to encourage the sector to get involved with plant-based and cultivated meat.

Woman eating plant-based burger

Plant-based meat sales up 19% to record €2.3 billion in western Europe, report shows

GFI’s latest state of the industry reports show plant-based meat sales climbed to record highs across Europe in 2021.

Forest

IPCC: plant-based and cultivated meat can play critical role in halving global emissions by 2030

GFI Europe calls for public investment in sustainable proteins as the world’s top scientists recognise plant-based and cultivated meat can cut emissions, and protect nature and global health.

Meet the researcher: Parag Acharya on building a one stop shop for sustainable proteins

Dr Parag Acharya from the University of Greenwich shares his advice for researchers interested in sustainable proteins.

Chart showing investment in European alternative protein companies

European sustainable protein sector raises €2.2 billion as market matures

New data released today by the Good Food Institute reveals sustainable protein companies across Europe raised more than €2.2 billion throughout 2021.

Deforestation

IPCC report highlights role of sustainable proteins in adapting to climate change

World’s top climate scientists acknowledge the role plant-based and cultivated meat could play in future-proofing our food system.

A shopper choosing products at the supermarket

Belgium urged to back down on ‘plant-based chicken’ ban

GFI Europe has joined other food sustainability NGOs to call on the Belgian government to drop plans to ban “meaty” names for plant-based products.

Plant-based meatballs

Beyond Veganuary – what are this year’s sustainable protein trends?

As the range of delicious plant-based options available across Europe expands, we look at what this year’s Veganuary launches tell us about what to expect from sustainable proteins in 2022.