Two Thirds of Europeans Are Open to Change Their Eating Habits for the Environment, Study Finds

Happy husband and wife with a kid buys vegetables
PVproductions/Bigstock

It appears the plant-based ethos is gaining traction in the EU. The survey polled 11,000+ people across 11 countries.

In recent weeks, Canada has announced they were investing nearly $100 million in plant-based protein company Merit Functional Foods, a great boon for the growing vegan movement. Now, we’re hopping over the Atlantic to Europe with more good news for the plant-based set: Two thirds of Europeans are “are open to changing their eating habits for environmental reasons,” at least according to a new report from BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation (if you’re curious, the name comes from their French title, Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs).

The survey was conducted in the fall of 2019 (so it’s worth noting that results may have been different in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak) across 11 EU countries with roughly 1,000 participants per country, based on predefined quotas for age, gender, and geographical region.

Per the 41-page report, titled ONE BITE AT A TIME: CONSUMERS AND THE TRANSITION TO SUSTAINABLE FOOD, “Two thirds of consumers are open to changing their eating habits for environmental reasons, with many willing to waste less food at home, to buy more seasonal fruit and vegetables and to eat more plant-based foods.” Despite this encouraging news, the report also noted that decreasing dairy consumption or spending more money for sustainably-produced foods is more of a challenge for consumers.

Another key finding? Meat-free burgers are poised to become even more popular. “Whilst they have little appetite for insects and cultured meat, consumers are more likely to consider plant-based ‘burgers’ (if made without GMOs) and traditional vegetarian foods (e.g. pulses) as alternative sources of protein,” the report states.

Even though the interest in adopting a plant-based diet, or at least a partially plant-based diet is clearly there for these survey respondents, consumers can’t make this shift alone, as the report highlights. “Consumers must be encouraged and supported in adopting diets that are more plant-based, as cutting down on red meat is crucial for lowering the food related footprint,” one of the BEUC recommendations reads. “Focusing on positive messaging that encourages consumers to eat more plant-based foods rather than less meat; providing consumers with attractive alternative protein sources; and offering a wider range of meat-free options in the food catering and hospitality sector can all help in this respect.”

These fascinating findings definitely have our wheels turning. We sure wonder what the results would be if a similar survey was done in America. Here’s to hoping we’re as open-minded as those on the European continent on this tiny blue planet we all share.