What motivates people to eat less meat?

Plant-based meat substitutes are still in growth in Europe. Retail sales in western Europe rose 19% to a record €2.4 billion in 2021, according to food sustainability NGO the Good Food Institute. Meat alternatives have moved from a niche category in specialist retail to the supermarket shelf. And forecasters at Mordor Intelligence expect this upward trajectory to continue through to 2025, predicting a compound annual growth rate of 8.87% for the forecast period.

But there is some sign of category slowdown and the onset of plant-based fatigue. In North America, for instance, sales stayed flat last year in value terms at $1.4 billion (€1.3 billion). And in markets like the UK, plant-based sales are struggling to break 2% of the protein market share.

In this context, researchers at the University of Bonn set out to understand what is motivating shoppers to go plant based. “We wanted to know why consumers choose these alternatives,”​ explained Jeanette Klink-Lehmann, who is doing her doctorate at the Institute of Food and Resource Economics at the University of Bonn in the department of Professor Dr Monika Hartmann.

Klink-Lehmann and Professor Hartmann, together with their colleague Nick Marcus, surveyed 441 men and women from all over Germany to find out. The participants were asked, for example, to state how much they care about their health, whether they think humanity is heading for an ecological crisis and whether animal husbandry in agriculture should be ethically questioned. They also indicated their attitude toward meat substitutes and their intention to consume them regularly in the future.

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